With lunch over, we went back to work. Owen began drafting the report of the Pisn'ioc encounter to which the rest of us would add our contributions later; Ianto cleared up, made some coffee and then went to the archives with Eddy; and Toshiko made plans for the dump of the hospital porter's body along with half a dozen other things no doubt.
I was in the office negotiating the release of Gwen, starting at the top with the Chief Constable. He took a little persuading but finally agreed. Officially she'd be on secondment to 'Special Ops' but both of us knew she wouldn't return to the force unless something went drastically wrong. We agreed she would join us a week on Monday, just twelve days away. I sent an email to the others with the news and called Gwen. She was thrilled and I was smiling when the call ended; her enthusiasm was infectious. I spent the next hour sorting emails and making phone calls, including one to the Prime Minister who'd been on an overseas trip for a few days and wanted to catch up. It was all very boring.
"We're ready, Jack," said Toshiko standing at the office door. The tracksuit made her look younger and I suddenly realised who she reminded me of: Amy Wong in Futurama. "If we dump it now the currents will wash it up in the main dock around midnight."
With Webley and greatcoat on, Owen and I carried the body to the SUV while Toshiko told Ianto we were going out. It was a short drive, thankfully; the SUV still smelt from our earlier trip and we had all the windows open to let in fresh air. I pulled over close to the edge of the deserted dock we'd chosen as a dump site. This had once been a hive of activity, with hundreds of dockers moving all manner of cargoes by hand. But that was before containers. Now, one crane operator can do the work in a fraction of the time.
"Just here," directed Toshiko, walking to a spot at the end of the dock. "The current is strongest here."
"I am sick of hauling bodies around," complained Owen from the other end of the body bag. "Be glad when the newbie starts and she can do it."
"Stop complaining and keep walking," I told him. I had no sympathy; I'd been hauling bodies for a century! "And we're not giving Gwen all the worst jobs."
"Hey, she has to pay her dues, like the rest of us." Owen put down his end of the bag and unzipped it. "Or are you soft on her? Gonna give her a quick shag or three? If you haven't already." He grinned up at me.
"Wouldn't be a hardship," I grinned back.
"If you two have finished?" interrupted Toshiko, tapping her foot. She didn't look put out, just bored. Ianto was right, better to openly admire Gwen than lust after her in secret.
"Bossy, isn't she? Must be because she's getting it regularly." I lifted the porter's feet as Owen took his shoulders.
"You should hear her in bed. Orders, orders, orders." Owen smirked as Toshiko made disgusted noises but refused to respond or look at us, concentrating on her PDA. Having worked together for a year they understood one another and I felt they had a good shot at happiness. As good as anybody's can be, that is.
The body went into the water with a splash and floated face down. We waited but it didn't move, just stayed where it was until Owen found an abandoned scaffolding pole and pushed it further away from the dockside. Finally the current took it and it drifted off. When we were sure the body would not get tangled in the weeds, we piled back into the SUV and returned to base.
The Rift predictor was still quiet and there was nothing happening in the city that required our attention. It was eerie and the three of us tried to settle to work but couldn't concentrate. I checked the news reports of the Canton explosion - nothing new - then looked at the scans of the Pisn'ioc with Owen and concluded that the potion he'd concocted seemed to have worked. We wouldn't be sure until the attacks on the Weevils stopped but I was hopeful. By five o'clock I was bored to tears.
"Why don't you two get off?" I said, standing in the work area. I got a most unexpected response.
"No, thanks. Time you and Ianto got an evening off. Tosh and me'll stay here."
"What?" I was surprised at Owen's thoughtfulness and put it down to Toshiko's influence.
"You should, Jack," added Toshiko. "You two have covered all the evening and night shifts since we lost Suzie. Time you had a break."
Owen, who was back at his desk, looked round. "You won't get a better offer."
Toshiko jumped up. "I'll go and tell Ianto while you work out where you're going to take him." She was about to run off so I grabbed her arm to stop her, swinging her round into an unexpected, but very pleasant, embrace. "Hey, what are doing?"
"Yes, what are you doing?" asked Owen curiously.
"I'd quite like to know too." Ianto had come upon us silently and was walking past the water tower, Eddy on his shoulder and the carry case in his hand.
"Other than getting hard?" I asked sweetly. Owen and Ianto groaned while Toshiko giggled and gently moved away; she knew I wasn't aroused. "Seriously, thanks for the offer but I'd rather stay in tonight." I had other plans.
"What's this all about?" asked Ianto. Eddy ran down his front and jumped onto Owen's desk.
"Tosh and I offered to stay but seems Jack doesn't want a night off." Owen was eyeing me speculatively, holding a wriggling Eddy in his hands.
"Doesn't he?" Ianto gaze was accusing.
"No, I don't. If you'd let me finish," I said, "I was going to say that if the Rift is behaving itself tomorrow I'd prefer the morning off." Ianto made a lot of putting the carry case down on the coffee table and his face was an impassive mask when he finally straightened up. "Would that be okay?"
Owen and Toshiko shrugged, it was a better deal for them as they got this evening free. "Sure," said Owen. "Might as well get off then." In five minutes they were gone.
Ianto was at the coffee machine, his back very straight, not saying a word. A sure sign he was cross with me. I was about to go over and explain when he finished making the drinks and returned to the work area where I was sitting on the sofa playing with Eddy. The mug was plonked on the coffee table hard enough for some of the drink to spill.
"We could have had a night off," he began, standing very still, his expression irritated. "I'd have liked a few hours out of this place, with you, but instead you turn down the chance so you can go off and … and do something secret tomorrow!" He slammed his own coffee mug down on Toshiko's desk. "What is it? Flat Holm or … or that lady friend with the kid?"
"It's not a secret. I'm taking you out. On a date." I sipped my coffee, watching him closely. His expression changed from outrage to disbelief to pleasure in just a few moments. I loved wrong-footing him like this; he was so cute. "If you want to come, that is."
"I don't know." Now he was playing hard to get but a smile was lurking at the corners of his expressive mouth and his eyes were twinkling.
"I'll ask someone else then," I replied placidly.
His head shot up and he glared at me. "You will not! Where are we going?"
I grinned, I had him now. "Now that is a secret. Not sure how it ranks on the romantic scale but I promise it'll be somewhere … different."
He pondered this while he drank some coffee. "I'm not sure I like the sound of this, but … okay. I'll come."
"Big of you! And now, as we have the whole of the evening and an empty Hub I think it's time you came and joined me over here." I patted the seat next to me. "Lots of things I want to do with you." I proceeded to list them.
A couple of hours later, we'd completed items one and two on my list but had many more to go. We paused for a bit of work, Ianto to clean out the SUV and me to check the Rift monitor, alerts and police channels. There were no Rift openings and no Weevil sightings either. I decided it was time to consider activity number three which required Ianto and me to be apart. I opened the comms.
"Ianto, you there?"
"Umm. Gotta problem?" The hum of a vacuum cleaner could be heard in the background.
"Talk to me, Ianto. Smother me in those beautiful Welsh vowels and make me hard."
"I beg your pardon?" The background hum ceased. "What are you talking about?"
"Phone sex, Ianto, phone sex. Even on a repressed planet like this one, you must have heard of it. I'm undoing my shirt, Ianto. Can you see me? In your mind's eye, can you see my fingers undoing the buttons and my gorgeous chest and fabulous six-pack coming into sight, inch by inch?"
"Don't need a mind's eye," came from behind me. Hands swivelled the chair round and Ianto straddled me, lips hungrily pressed against mine. So much for number three, we went straight into number four.
"You were right. Much better to stay in tonight," said Ianto. We were in the kitchen making supper having completed numbers four through six. One night of abstinence had made us hungry for one another. "A movie doesn't compare to this. That cheese ready?"
"Almost." I was grating a hunk of cheddar to go on top of the baked potatoes while Ianto was making up a side salad and something for Eddy. "Here." I passed him the cheese and wrapped my arms around his waist resting my chin on his shoulder. "We'll do the movie sometime, be easier to have time off when Gwen starts." I nicked a piece of cucumber and got my knuckles rapped. "Ow."
"Leave it alone. I'd like that, but being here is more … satisfying."
"Long as I'm not wearing you out." We'd been pretty energetic but I'd made sure we varied our lovemaking so he didn't take too much punishment. I could take all he gave me and heal almost immediately, he couldn't.
"I'm fine. Here, take this." He handed me the Tupperware container filled with tuna and salad. "Give this to Eddy while I grill the potatoes."
"Okay." I kissed his neck and released him, padding across the Hub to the work area where we'd left Eddy in his carry case; poor thing was tired of being cooped up and was standing at the grill looking out. "Out you come. Suppertime."
We ate sitting on the couch with Eddy - after he'd eaten his meal - climbing around the place. He seemed very at home and had some favourite places now including, surprisingly, Owen's untidy desk. Having investigated enough, he curled up on the keyboard and went to sleep. Ianto and I curled up together and watched TV on one of Toshiko's screens. It was one of those talent shows where people make prats of themselves. Do they honestly think they're any good? Or is the lure of five minutes of 'fame' so great they don't mind the ridicule? Whatever, we had a good laugh.
Later, after Ianto had cleared up, we retired to his room and worked our way through numbers seven, eight and nine before calling a halt. We were both tired and needed sleep, even me, and cuddled up in one another's arms in the comfort of his bed. I stayed there all night, even after I woke, and lay watching Ianto sleep; one of my favourite occupations. At six, I eased from the bed, showered and dressed before checking once again that all was quiet in Cardiff. There had been a three car pile up in the Bute Tunnel and a knifing in a city centre pub but nothing to merit our attention. A brief report of another possible disappearance in the Brecon Beacons caught my eye. Thomas King, 22, had been driving home after a night out with friends and was missing. His car had been found but there was no trace of him. The police were taking it very seriously and a full search was planned for first light. I added the details to my file.
Ianto had been up and about for an hour when Toshiko and Owen came in at eight thirty. With a mug of coffee each, we gathered in the work area.
"The Rift's still clear so Ianto and I'll take the morning off. We'll not be far away, so call us in if something big happens."
"Where are you going?" asked Toshiko, stroking Eddy who was on her lap. She had been entrusted with the Eddykk's care with strict instructions about what to feed him.
"He won't tell me," said Ianto with a smile. All through our passionate evening together, he had tried to get me to spill the beans but I'd refused. "Probably going to check on the Weevils in the sewers!"
"Damn, you've guessed!" I responded.
"It better not be!"
"We'll be fine, wherever you are," said Owen airily. "We plan to have a quiet morning here in the Hub. You leaving the SUV?"
"Uh huh. We'll take the Rav," I told him. "Right, Ianto, off you go and do whatever you need to do. We'll be leaving in half an hour."
It was closer to nine fifteen when I finally winkled him out of the base and into the car. The day was bright and sunny as I drove north, for once not in a rush to get anywhere and content to take my turn at junctions and lights. Beside me, Ianto looked out of the window and chatted about all he saw. He was relaxed and happy and pleased to be out of the Hub for a few hours. I think he also liked being with me, I know I liked being with him. We made it through the city and continued north, crossing the M4 and taking the A470 signposted to Pontypridd. We turned off almost immediately into the houses clinging to the wooded hills.
"Is it Castell Coch? Is that where we're going?" asked Ianto. We'd been following the signs for the past few miles so I was surprised he hadn't twigged earlier. "Jack, is it?" He was like a child on an outing.
"Yes, course it is. I suppose you've been before."
"Couple of times but years ago, when I was a kid." He was still a kid to me, especially when he was excited like now. "It'll be great."
He twisted to look at me. "You've not visited it, have you? In a hundred years you've seen nothing."
"Nope," I agreed amiably. "I was waiting for you to show me."
"Idiot!" He punched me lightly on the arm. "You mean you were too lazy."
"That too." I was pleased I had waited and would be able to see these places for the first time with him.
I negotiated the narrow streets and followed the road up the hillside before turning left into the grounds of Castell Coch, continuing to climb steeply until reaching the car park. There were a few cars there already even this early in the morning and I parked near them. It was a beautiful place. Trees surrounded us this high up on the hill and we could just see, through an opening, the motorway and city laid out below us. The place was quiet and it was as if we were miles from anywhere despite being able to see the busy people below.
"This way," said Ianto continuing the climb up the steep slope to the castle a hundred metres or so above. Two huge rounded towers with conical roofs flanked a square gatehouse with a large wooden bridge. "It was built in the Middle Ages though there was a smaller castle back in Norman times."
"Survived well." There wasn't a mark on the place.
He stopped and stared at me, incredulous at my lack of knowledge. "It was rebuilt in the 1890s by the Marquess of Bute. The one that owned most of Cardiff. Don't you know anything?"
"Obviously not. You'll have to educate me." I grinned and grabbed his hand, pulling him along. "Come on."
We spent two hours going round the castle. Ianto took the guide book and proceeded to lead me round from the central courtyard, up the outside steps and into each of the rooms. They were all decorated in the high Gothic style so beloved of the Victorians with colourful wall decoration and painted ceilings. We saw drawing rooms and bedrooms, a portcullis and kitchen and climbed up and down spiral staircases – including one which had a strange right angle bend in it - until my legs ached. Finally Ianto took pity on me and we went to the restaurant in the old servants' hall and had a restorative cup of coffee and a slice of cake each. Outside once again, we had time to wander right round the castle studying the towering walls and enjoying a moment away from prying eyes when Ianto permitted me to hold his hand as we walked.
At close to midday we stood by the car. "Enjoyed yourself?" I asked.
"Oh yeah. You?" He looked across the roof of the Rav, eyes shining and a happy smile on his face. He was like any other young man let off work for a few hours.
It had been a wonderful morning, spent with the man I loved and I hoped for many more occasions like it. Driving back to Cardiff and the pressures of work, I thanked my lucky star – the sixth in the Sullinian Hegemony – that he had been in that park when I went out to catch a Weevil. Who would have believed that such an inauspicious meeting would lead to such happiness? I was going to hang on to it for as long as I possibly could.
And that's where I am going to leave Jack, Ianto and the rest of the team. I started this story with the intention of getting as far as Gwen joining Torchwood and the start of the first series. While I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this story, I still think that is the place to end before I run out of ideas. Thank you all for reading, reviewing, placing the story on alert and making it a favourite. I really appreciate your support - Jay