Author's note: It's nearly the end of term! Hopefully I'll be up to doing lots more non-university stuff soon, including lots more writing.
Ianto was alone when he woke, but the background noise of the apartment reassured him that Jack wasn't far away. He rolled onto his back and wrapped the duvet more tightly around himself, burying his face in the soft, thick material and smiling contentedly. It couldn't last, though, and a few minutes later he dragged himself out of bed to stumble towards the bathroom, and from there to the living area. They'd just dropped the boxes of equipment in there the previous evening and worked around them whilst they got ready to go out, and then Jack had had to pour Ianto into bed at the end of a long and enjoyable evening.
"I thought I heard voices," he commented to the room at large, doing his best to ignore Tosh's slightly guilty smile and Jack's delighted grin. "Good morning, Toshiko."
"Good morning, Ianto." She was sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by the equipment she'd taken out of one of the boxes and clearly trying her best to look innocent. "Did you sleep well?"
He raised an eyebrow at her and headed past the sofa where Jack was sitting into the kitchen area, ruffling his hair on the way. "I don't want to know. Coffee, either of you?"
"Yes please, Ianto." Tosh called.
Jack turned his head to look over the back of the sofa. "I love you." The sofa groaned as he turned back around, and Ianto heard his unsubtle aside to Tosh, "I used to be able to ask him for coffee – now I have to give declarations of eternal devotion to get my caffeine fix."
"Quite right too," she told him decisively. "Your purpose in life is now making Ianto feel appreciated and willing to make coffee for all of us. The safety of the world depends upon it."
Ianto smiled to himself and finished off the coffees, bringing them through to the living room on a tray. "How long have you been here, Tosh? I should have guessed you'd be here before I was up."
"Only half an hour or so." She waved it away and reached for a mug. "Maybe an hour."
"Closer to two," Jack corrected her. "We didn't wake you, did we?"
"Not even getting up." He nudged Jack over and fell onto the sofa next to him, turning to bury his face in Jack's shoulder for a moment. "I must have been well out of it."
"After last night I'm not surprised." Jack rubbed his shoulder reassuringly, but pushed him away. "Come on, work to do. Let's get this set up before Gwen and Owen get here."
Owen stopped off at the Hub to feed the few inmates they kept over the Winter and picked Gwen up on his way to Jack and Ianto's apartment, so they arrived late and left the three of them plenty of time to get the systems set up. Tybalt commandeered one of the boxes to sleep in, hidden in the pile of polystyrene balls, and the rest of them settled down around the open-plan space to do their work.
"We need to find an alternative base for a while," Jack pointed out an hour later, out of the blue. "This is fine for doing report work, but we can't do any research or experiments, and we can't contain any complex organisms because we have nowhere to put them." He smiled at Tosh reassuringly and rubbed his thumb across the back of Ianto's neck. "We can't fix the heating yet, I'm not letting you go down there until it's a lot warmer. But I've been thinking that we should consider moving to a new base anyway."
Ianto rubbed his shin, it being the nearest part of Jack's body to where he sat on the floor, and looked up at him. "What have you got in mind?"
He shrugged and looked at all of them. "We need a lot of different things from a base. That's why they're all purpose-built. But the budget hasn't stretched to that since Canary Wharf, and we need it sorting sooner than that would allow."
Owen was frowning at him from the kitchen table. "What did they do in the olden days, back before we had gas heating and things like that? They managed, I assume?"
"They did," Jack confirmed. "But it was a much smaller space. The Hub was built under a dock deep enough for ocean-going ships, and the space above us now wasn't created until after they filled in the Basin thirty years ago. The director back then got them to drop the ceiling, intending to create new levels up there and get us out of the archives. But then the money was channelled away to Canary Wharf and we didn't get our rebuild."
"But surely this should have taken precedence?" Gwen asked. "I mean, this is more volatile than London ever was, isn't it?"
"It is, but London has always been head office," he pointed out. She grimaced in understanding. "Besides, they were getting funny energy readings they needed to examine over there, and the development was happening so fast that they needed to get things in place before the space was taken. We'd made our space here; actually filling it with things could wait."
"And wait, and wait," Gwen finished for him. "London, eh?" Ianto coughed and she smiled reassuringly. "Not with you in charge, pet. You're Cardiff really. It's the English ponces who forget that Wales is anything more than sheep."
"We need to think about the location as well," Ianto pointed out, deciding that protesting again wouldn't achieve anything. "The Bay location, nice as it is for living and working, hasn't really been feasible since the start of the millennium."
"I know." Jack leaned back into the sofa cushions and looked at the ceiling. "Oh the nineteen nineties – crazy times. You're right, though. We get, what, a million tourists down by the Bay?"
"Over five," Ianto corrected. "Plus all the locals who come down here. We get stuck in traffic coming around the one-way system, we can't bring things in through the TI office any more, people keep trying to use the TI office to get maps and things, the water tower is constantly surrounded by people..."
"Tell us how you feel, mate. Let it out," Owen teased.
Ianto flicked him the finger. "And everyone knows we're down by the Bay." He pointed at Gwen with his pen. "We either need a full-scale redevelopment including new entrances, or a new location," he finished.
"We need an architect," Tosh murmured. "I don't suppose you have one of them on your team in London, Ianto?"
"UNIT have a team," Jack pointed out. "But I want someone internal on it as well. Gwen, can you see if there's anyone graduated this year or due to graduate next year in architecture who was also a member of the science fiction society? I'd prefer a first, but a two-one will do. You know how to get into their records?"
"No rush." He waved her off the computer again to stop her searching it immediately. "They're all off for Christmas, and so will we be soon. Just make a note to do it in the new year. Owen and Tosh, I want you two to think about what you need from the Hub, including what you've got that you need to keep. Same for you two, but it's not going to be as hard to organise, I don't think."
They nodded and made notes to remind themselves whilst Jack carried on thinking out loud. "Ianto, I need you to keep an eye out for suitable properties. Old hospitals, hotels, churches, things like that. I wonder if the old library's still vacant..."
"Half of it is a bar, the other half is going to be a museum," Ianto told him with a sigh. "Do you never read the papers?"
"No, that's Gwen's job." Jack frowned at Gwen. "Did you know that there was going to be a museum in the old library?"
"See?" He nudged the back of Ianto's head. "Just you."
"Fine. It's not vacant, even if I'm the only one of us who knows this. It's too busy anyway, we'd have the same problem with not being able to use the doors and with everyone knowing where we were."
Jack sighed, and Ianto knew without looking that he was putting on a frown. "The castle then?"
Owen made a disgusted noise and Ianto threw his pen at him, then let his head drop back against Jack's leg to look up at him. "I can't be bothered to do any more work. Declare Christmas, Jack?"
Jack bent over to kiss his forehead, and the others averted their eyes. "You're a menace, Jones. But there's not much more we can do here anyway. Everyone got their reports finished?" There was a murmur of confirmation, and Jack pushed himself to his feet, nudging Ianto away gently. "Then let's order pizza and crack open the booze. Here's to Christmas."
By nine that night the apartment was quiet again. Owen had slunk away early, dispirited by the drinking and eating he couldn't join in with, even though Jack had barely been drinking either. Tosh and Gwen were both too drunk to notice, and Gwen had been taken home by Rhys, giggly and over-affectionate, leaving Tosh curled up in an armchair with Tybalt and a glass of red wine. Jack rescued the tipping glass from her and held it out of her reach. "Time for bed, Toshiko. I'll get you a glass of water, you go and get ready for bed. We made the spare room up for you."
Ianto watched with one eye as Jack ushered Tosh out of the living area, then disappeared out of his sight line towards the kitchen. He'd been curled up on the sofa since before Gwen left, resting his head in Jack's lap for the most part, only letting him up when he needed to get the door or something from the kitchen. Tosh patted his head clumsily as she passed, and Jack gave him a smile as he headed in the opposite direction towards the kitchen. He must have dozed off for a while after that, because when he opened his eyes again it was because Jack was crouching in front of him and trying not to laugh. "Hey gorgeous," Jack whispered. "Ready to come to bed?"
He let Jack pull him to his feet and followed him towards the bedroom. The only warning he got before Jack tumbled him onto the bed was a wicked grin and Jack's hands on his waist. "You're incorrigible." He kept his voice down and pushed on Jack's shoulders to keep him away. "Tosh is in the next room."
"And you are too tired. Remember my objection to you falling asleep on me?" Jack teased, nuzzling his nose against Ianto's cheek. "Or under me, for that matter..."
Ianto relaxed completely and smirked up at him lazily. "And what if I wanted to go to sleep under you?"
Jack nipped at his Adam's apple and growled. "I demand audience participation."
"Oh well." He rolled to his side and Jack toppled into place behind him. "Night night then." He closed his eyes and hid his smile in the bedding, waiting for Jack to react.
"You are such a tease," Jack muttered. "We get the bed to ourselves for once and all you want to do is sleep." He rubbed one hand across Ianto's cotton-clad shoulder. "And I know you're not asleep, because you'll never sleep in your clothes."
Ianto faked a snore, which was broken by a laugh when Jack shoved at his shoulder and rolled away. They lay there, facing away from each other and trying not to laugh out loud. Eventually Ianto rolled over to press against Jack's back and reached around to start work on his buttons. "How about I undress you," he suggested in a low purr, "and you can do the rest?"
Jack laughed and caught Ianto's hand, raising it to his lips and pressing kisses to his fingertips. "You should sleep," he pointed out with evident reluctance. "It's late. And you're tired. And you're very distracting."
The gentle, nibbling kisses against the back of Jack's neck had done the trick, and Ianto smiled against his skin. "One night only, Jack. Then the fluff ball will be back."
"It is really weird having sex with him in the room," Jack conceded. "Even if he's under the bed."
Ianto laughed and nuzzled Jack's cheek. They drifted into near-silence broken by gasps and bitten-off moans as Jack rolled to face Ianto and they stripped each other, dropping their clothes in a heap off the edge of the bed. Fingers and mouths trailed across each other's skin sparked warmth that pooled through their bodies until Ianto felt like he should be glowing brightly enough to light the room. That got him wondering about the biological requirements for that to happen, and he laughed at the way his mind worked. Jack poked him in the ribs and pouted against his shoulder. "You're not supposed to laugh."
"Sorry." He combed his fingers through Jack's hair to encourage him. "It's just weird."
"My mind." Ianto shrugged and looks down at Jack, who was considering him seriously. "Have you ever met aliens who glowed with extreme emotion?"
Jack's smile turned bemused, and he crawled up the bed to face Ianto properly. "Can I petition for more sex, fewer aliens? I have, though."
"Before you came to Torchwood?" Ianto pressed on. He wasn't sure why it mattered so much, but it did. That could have been alcohol talking."
"Yes." Jack gathered him closer and Ianto curled up to press his cheek against Jack's chest, resuming his hands' gentle roaming. "So long ago and far away it could have been another person." He tightened his fingers around Ianto's biceps and gasped. "Ianto..."
"Shh..." he lifted his head to look at Jack and press kisses to his eyelids. "Tell me. Tell me who you were, where you went, what you saw. Take me with you."
Jack did as he asked, telling him a story of travel through star-fields that dazzled with a hundred colours and civilisations, of people and places both terrible and beautiful, of just one of the many lives Jack had lived. Time seemed to slow to a drift in the afterglow, existing independent of them and the room around them. Ianto dragged his fingers over Jack's chest to feel the solid strength of his muscles. "Why do you stay?" he asked at last. "Why did you stay on Earth for so long? We're so dull by comparison."
Jack chuckled and rubbed the back of Ianto's head. "Dull, Ianto? You only think it's dull because it's home. If you could see it the way I see it... This planet is amazing. And best of all, it has you."
Ianto smiled and snuggled closer. "You're doing the sappy thing again."