AUTHOR: Erin Giles
DISCLAIMER: Torchwood and it's characters are property of the BBC.
PAIRINGS/CHARACTERS: Ianto/Jack, Gwen, Owen, Tosh
SUMMARY: Every person on the planet has an irrantional phobia of something. Silly fluff.
CHALLENGE: A field of cows.
Ianto hesitated at the gate to the field, his hand resting on the top metal bar, cool against his sweaty palms.
"Come on, Ianto," Gwen called back to him, already striding up through the field, avoiding cows as she went. Owen was grumbling not far behind her, complaining about the smell and wondering why on earth he was here when he was blatantly a doctor and not a vet. Jack's arm kept snatching at Tosh's, steering her out the way of cowpats as she stared down intently at her handheld PDA.
It wasn't until they reached the top of the hill that they realised Ianto had not followed them. They glanced around, looking for the smartly dressed Welshman only to find him still stood down by the gate, one hand on it, and one on the fencepost beside it, watching one of the cows nearest to him.
"Ianto!" Jack bellowed, loud enough to scare the cows in the local vicinity, but not loud enough to snap Ianto out of his reverie. Jack sighed before starting to head back down the hill.
"You lot keep going, we'll catch you up," Jack called over his shoulder as he tramped back down the hillside to Ianto. As Jack got nearer he realised Ianto and the cow seemed to be having a staring competition, one chewing it's cud while the other audibly swallowed, a scared look on his face.
"Ianto?" Jack asked as he stepped into Ianto's line of sight, breaking up the staring competition.
Ianto jumped slightly before he blinked a couple of times, bringing Jack into focus. "Sir?"
"Everything ok?" Jack questioned, putting one hand on the gate beside Ianto's white knuckled grip.
"Fine, Sir," Ianto replied, visibly swallowing. Up close he could see that Ianto was sweating as he brought one of his hands up to pull nervously at his collar, his face almost grey as well.
"What's keeping you then?" Jack pressed, pulling the gate towards him so there was a gap wide enough for Ianto to get through. To Jack's surprise, Ianto pulled the gate closed again, peering over Jack's shoulder. Jack turned to see that the cow was still staring in their general direction.
"Ianto Jones, are you scared of cows?" Jack asked, a hint of amusement in his voice.
"They are not cows!" Ianto replied indignantly, eyes flashing behind Jack again. "They're bulls; bullocks at the very least."
Ianto's voice sounded nervous as he kept the gate firmly between him and the field. Jack glanced back up the field where he could still see Gwen pacing along the hill ridge. She waved when she saw him looking and Jack waved back before turning back to Ianto.
"Why don't you head back to the SUV and run communications for us? I'll get Tosh to send the data down to you," Jack suggested, not missing the relieved look that crossed Ianto's face before he nodded.
Jack watched Ianto disappear back down the road to the farmyard, walking slightly quicker than was entirely necessary before Jack started striding back up the hill to Gwen.
"Ianto ok?" she asked as Jack drew near.
"Yeah, he's just feeling a bit off. I sent him back to the SUV to run communications for Tosh."
"Not coming down with something is he?" Gwen sounded concerned as she peered back down the hill trying to spot Ianto but he had already disappeared out of sight.
"No, I think he's just a bit tired is all." Jack tried to sound reassuring as he put a hand on the small of Gwen's back, steering her down the other side of the hill towards Tosh and Owen.
"Do I get to hear the cow story now?" Jack asked, leaning against the tourist office counter later that night as Ianto finished tidying up.
"What cow story?" Ianto tried to sound oblivious as he straightened the leaflets and postcards.
"Oh come on, you were terrified out there. Just be grateful I didn't tell the other's, otherwise you'd never hear the end of it from Owen."
"I don't know what you mean," Ianto confessed, remaining oblivious.
"You know I think Owen's still downstairs." Jack pushed away from the desk, moving to go back downstairs, but a hand catching a hold of his wrist stopped him.
"Fine," Ianto huffed. "But this goes no further!" Ianto threatened.
"My lips are sealed," Jack promised, making a show of locking his lips and throwing away the key.
"When I was a kid we used to go on family holiday's to Tenby with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins. I had an older cousin who I used to look up to. He was always telling me about these stunts he used to pull, real dare devil stuff. Anyway, the cottage we used to rent was on farmland and used to back onto the field where they kept the bullocks. One summer we were out in the field, daring each other to grab the electric fence there, when my cousin David thought it would be a good idea to play matadors with my Auntie Jessie's good towels."
"Ah." Jack's amused expression had disappeared to be replaced by one of understanding.
"To cut a long story short I got chased through the field, my cousin legged it and my Dad had to go get the farmer to rescue me out the tree I'd climbed to escape them. My knees and hands had no skin left on 'em from scrabbling up it. I was terrified," Ianto admitted, not daring to look at Jack as he switched off his computer and picked up his jacket, pulling it on.
"You can mock now," Ianto said dejectedly as he reached a hand out for his keys but before he could retrieve them, Jack's hand was on top of his, warm and comforting.
"I'm not laughing," Jack replied solemnly.
"Yeah, but it's a stupid childhood fear." Ianto sounded annoyed with himself.
"Gwen is terrified of spiders, Tosh doesn't do well on anything higher than the coffee table and Owen, well he's scared of ferrets due to something that happened in his first year of Uni, which even I don't think I can divulge it's that mortifying," Jack admitted, a slight smile on his face as he looked back up at Ianto.
"Yeah, but it's not cows," Ianto admitted rather drearily.
"I believe you said bullocks, which do have horns," Jack argued, trying to make Ianto feel better. Ianto gave a shy smile in return.
"So what is the great Jack Harkness scared of then?" Ianto mused as he pulled his keys into his hand, opening the door to the tourist office, hoping Jack would follow him home.
"Oh that one's going to my deathbed with me." Jack looked slightly scared as he followed Ianto out the door.
"That gives me a while to figure it out then." Ianto looked amused as he locked the door of the tourist office.
"You know I was thinking of growing a beard," Ianto considered, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
"I'm not scared of beards." Jack sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets.
"And heights is definitely out since you spend most of your time on roofs. Scared of sex?" Ianto asked, looking sideways at Jack who just burst into laughter as he looped his arm through Ianto's as they made their way across the Plass to Ianto's car.