Author's Note: This is a Torchwood fan fiction written for Tarabeth's Holiday Challenge. The prompt was 'Lights'. This story takes place during Season 1, directly after the episode 'Out of Time', which takes place during Christmas. Expect specific spoilers for that episode, and also for 'Cyberwoman'. I'm an American, so if any of you from the UK see any glaring cultural errors please let me know, so I can fix them. Torchwood takes place in Cardiff. The character Jack is American, and the character Ianto is Welsh. Warning for slash, which is cannon. Warning for views on death and suicide that may offend some people, but those are cannon as well. (Hopefully it's not too depressing for a Christmas fic. I would say it has a happy ending.)

Fairy Lights

Boxing Day 2006

Jack sat in the car next to John's dead body, and wished he could feel something other then emptiness. The exhaust fumes were thick enough that Jack could no longer see through the windshield. He had no idea how long he'd been sitting there, hours maybe. John had stopped breathing quite some time ago, but no matter how many deep breaths of the toxic fumes Jack took in, his body just kept right on breathing.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by the ringing of his cell phone. It took extreme effort, but after the second ring, Jack took it out of his pocket, and answered it. "What?" he asked, letting the irritation show in his voice.

Ianto's voice came to him on the other line, "Jack?"

Closing his eyes for a moment, Jack leaned his head back, feeling like a jerk. He'd somehow forgotten in all the emotional turmoil that he was in Ianto's car. "I'm sorry."

"What's happened? Have you found John?"

Turning to the dead man, Jack said, "Yes."

There was a short pause, before Ianto said, "And?"

"What time is it?"

"Three in the morning."

"Three in the morning," Jack repeated. He'd been sitting here with the dead man for a little over three hours. It was Boxing Day now. Christmas was over, along with John's struggle to adjust to time traveling.

"Ten past actually. I fell asleep. Sorry."

Wincing at the apology, Jack said, "No, don't be sorry. Are you still at the office?"

"Yes."

"I'll be there in fifteen minutes with John, and your car. We'll need to assign him a locker." There was a long pause on the line. Jack said, "Ianto? Did you hear me?"

"Yes, Sir. I'll start the paperwork immediately. Should I meet you at the street entrance with a body bag?"

"Yeah." Jack hung up, and turned the car off. After one more look at John, he got out, and opened the garage door to let the fumes dissipate. Once the air was slightly less thick, he looked back to the car. John was in the driver's seat. It took a few minutes to shove the man over, but soon John was on the passenger's side, and Jack was behind the wheel.

As he drove through the empty streets, he saw bright festive lights that adorned the houses he passed, and felt out of touch with the world around him. How could these people be happy enough to decorate their apartments, houses, and storefronts with tiny colorful lights to celebrate Christmas, while others sunk in the quicksand of despair?

# # #

When the car pulled up to the street side entrance, Ianto came out with the bag, and immediately noticed that there was no damage to his car. Jack got out, and both men looked up and down the dark street for any signs of people. Not seeing any, Jack opened the passenger side door, and Ianto lay the body bag down on the ground beside it. Jack reached in and pulled at John's upper half, while Ianto grabbed for his legs once the body was halfway out.

Wrinkling his nose, Ianto said, "Good Lord, what's that smell?"

"Exhaust. You'll need to get the car detailed on the company's dime."

"You found him dead?" Ianto asked as he set the feet down into the bag.

"No," Jack set John's upper half down in the bag as well.

"No?" there was both surprise and accusation in that word.

Jack glared and said, "Let's hurry this up, before we draw attention to ourselves."

Focusing on the task at hand, Ianto zipped up the bag, while Jack shut the car door. Both men grabbed the bag, and lifted it together. They carried it through their street front office, and into the lift. On the way down to Torchwood's main room, Ianto said, "What happened?"

"He convinced me that he wanted to die, so I respected his decision, and sat with him while he did it."

The lift door opened, and Jack picked his end of the body bag back up, but Ianto just stood and stared at him. "Are you alright?"

"Not really. A little help here?"

Ianto grabbed his end, and both men carried the body through Torchwood to the storage unit where they kept the bodies. Ianto had already gotten a locker ready. The door was open, the tray was pulled out, and there was a clipboard with paperwork hung on the wall beside the open door. John was somewhat heavy set, and it was a bit of a struggle to get him up on the tray. Once it was done, Ianto picked up the clipboard, and said, "Right then. Time of death?"

"Midnight."

"Midnight?" Ianto couldn't help but wonder what Jack had been doing between then and now.

"It's a fairly accurate guess."

Nodding, Ianto wrote it down and asked, "Cause of death?"

"Suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning."

While he was scribbling that down, Ianto said, "Short description of the events that led to his death."

Jack put a hand over Ianto's to stop the writing and said, "Can we do this a little later?"

There was a lot of meaning in that touch, and in the look the two men shared across the top of the body. For the past month, the two had been occasional lovers as well as co-workers. Ianto had made the first move, and both men enjoyed the current arrangement. But it had been difficult for Ianto at first. He didn't always realize when Jack was switching gears from boss to lover, or back again, but it had gotten easier with practice. Right now Jack was asking, not ordering, and Ianto knew he was looking at his lover, not his boss. "Sure Jack."

Ianto hung up the clipboard, pushed the tray with the body into place, and shut the locker door. Once it was done, he pulled Jack into a hug. After a minute of mutual comfort, Ianto pulled away and said, "You smell."

"Yeah. Sorry."

"Why don't you take a shower, and change your clothes. I'll make you some coffee."

Jack was grateful that his lover understood exactly what he needed, without him having to ask, and turned to walk towards the bathroom.

Ianto stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. When he turned, Ianto held out his hand and said, "Jacket please. I'll have it laundered."

Shrugging out of his long overcoat, Jack handed it over.

Ten minutes later, a much cleaner, and better smelling, Jack sat on the couch sipping a coffee, with his lover. "Do you want to talk about it?" Ianto asked, once half the coffee was gone from Jack's cup.

"He was nearly passed out when I got there. I yanked him out of the car, and tried to convince him he had things to live for. I told him he could start a new life. Find a new wife, have more kids, adjust to the future." Jack turned to look at Ianto and continued, "But he didn't want to. He said he'd already done all that back in his own time. I told him he wouldn't get reunited with his loved ones if he did it. That all he could look forward to was black nothingness. But he didn't care."

Ianto rested his head on Jack's shoulder and said, "Being Christmas had to make it worse. Knowing how his family must have suffered when he went missing fifty years ago."

"Maybe I didn't try hard enough," Jack muttered.

Sitting up, Ianto put a hand on the side of Jack's face, and pulled him in for a gentle kiss. When they broke apart, Ianto said, "I know you did everything you could. You always do."

Jack turned his face away, and Ianto let his hand fall. "Maybe not this time."

Looking closely at his lover, Ianto said, "What makes you say that?"

"Because I understood him. Better then you can ever know." They made eye contact again. "He was in the wrong time. So am I. His entire family is dead and gone. So are mine. Maybe my words rang false when I told him he should keep going."

Breaking eye contact to look at his own lap, Jack whispered, "Maybe I was jealous."

"Jealous?" Ianto could tell Jack was serious, but he didn't know what there was to be jealous of. He'd never seen Jack look so unsure, and found it disconcerting. Jack was always in charge. He always had an answer. He always made the decisions, and stuck to them, whether his team agreed with him or not.

Jack's voice was low, and his eyes were downcast as he said, "He told me that if I didn't let him kill himself tonight, he'd just wait until my back was turned, and do it then. So I got in the car, and held his hand while he faded away. At the time, I was sure it was the right thing… But what if deep down, I was jealous that he had that option, when I don't? What if I wanted to watch him die, so I could go through it vicariously?"

Once Ianto understood what Jack was saying, he found himself furious. With a carefully controlled voice, he said, "What did you do for the three hours between his death and my phone call?"

"I sat with him. Just sat with him and thought about life."

"Thought about death you mean," Ianto said, letting his emotions show.

Jack turned to look at the man sitting next to him, and was amazed by the expression he saw. "You're angry," he said, trying to figure out what had caused it.

"Try livid." Ianto stood up and held out his hand. "Coffee."

Jack handed it over, and Ianto set it on the table. Once it was safely out of the way, Ianto reached down, took Jack's hand in his, and pulled to make him get up. Jack stood, and said, "You're livid?"

Keeping a hold of the larger man's hand, Ianto led him through the building, towards Jack's office. Jack followed passively enough, and muttered to himself, "He's livid."

Ianto didn't stop or comment, until they were both standing in front of Jack's desk. The younger man let go of Jack's hand and started clearing things off the desk. Jack watched curiously, wondering what Ianto was up to. Once the middle of the desk was clear, Ianto pointed to it and said, "Bend over. Hands on the desk please."

As realization dawned, Jack held his hands up in front of him defensively. "Whoa there, slow down, Ianto. I don't think so." This was not the way their relationship worked. They'd been in this exact position with the roles reversed about six months ago. Jack was the one who called the shots, not anyone else.

"I most certainly will not slow down." Ianto grabbed one of Jack's wrists, and pulled Jack's arm down towards the desk as he said, "Now put your bloody hands on the desk!"

Leaving his hand where Ianto had placed it, Jack turned back and looked at his lover, trying to decide if he was going to let this happen or not. After a few seconds of eye contact, Jack could tell that Ianto was completely serious, and even though he still wasn't sure why Ianto thought he deserved punishment, he was sure that he'd let him do it. He placed his other hand on the desk, turned his face forward, and thought about the day he'd been the one doling out punishment. All things considered, Jack thought he'd been very understanding about Lisa, but he doubted Ianto saw things the same way.

# # #

Six months ago.

Ianto didn't know how long he'd been kneeling on the floor, holding her body and crying, but the team had let him stay with Lisa until his tears had run dry. Eventually Jack had kneeled down, put a hand on Ianto's shoulder and said, "We'll need to assign both of them a locker. Gwen can help me, if you want. Tosh can take you home."

Shaking his head, Ianto said, "No. I should be the one to do it." He looked Jack in the eye and said, "Everyone else should go home."

Jack turned to the three other members of the team, and gave them a nod to let them know they should go home for the night. Once they were gone, Ianto said, "We'll need three lockers. Lisa killed the specialist I'd brought in to help her too."

With a sigh, Jack helped Ianto to stand, and the two men worked together to clean up the mess. They put Lisa's body and the pizza girl's body, with Lisa's brain, into the storage unit. Then they retrieved Dr. Tanizaki's body from the basement where Ianto had hidden it, and put it in storage as well. They filled out the necessary paperwork, and once it was done, Jack said, "Go home Ianto. You have two days off, like it or not. On your first day back, come in an hour early to discuss this incident with me before the others arrive."

After glancing in the general direction of the storage unit, where Lisa's body was, Ianto nodded and said, "Yes, Sir."

It had been a long two days for Ianto, but it had given him some time alone to grieve, and to think about what he'd done. He'd hidden Lisa from everyone, trying to save the part of her that was still human, and then she'd gone on a murderous rampage, almost killing everyone on the team. He'd wanted to die with her, but Jack hadn't let that happen.

When the two days were up, Ianto showed up exactly an hour early, as ordered. When the door to the lift opened, he was startled to see Jack standing in front of it, waiting for him. After a few seconds of trying to gauge the other's mood and intent, Jack said, "Come on," and turned to walk to his office.

As Ianto followed, he found himself sweating, and feeling sick to his stomach. Over the past two days, his emotions had been all over the place. Guilt over what he'd done to his teammates, and for the two people Lisa had murdered. Sometimes hate, and sometimes gratitude, towards Jack, both for killing Lisa, and for not letting him die with her. Sometimes excruciating sorrow, because Lisa was gone, and sometimes immense relief that Lisa couldn't hurt anyone else. But right now as he followed his boss to his office, the emotion that pushed itself to the forefront was shame.

Ianto froze halfway through the entrance to Jack's office, after seeing Jack's desk. All the usual clutter had been removed. It was perfectly clear, except for a metal ruler on one side, and a glass of water with a couple of white pills on the other.

When Jack made it to the desk, he turned and saw that Ianto was still in the doorway. He snapped his fingers, and pointed to the spot in front of him, "Right here."

Swallowing nervously, Ianto walked to the spot Jack had indicated. Getting into Ianto's personal space, Jack said, "You hid things from me. You disobeyed me repeatedly. And you held a gun on me."

Staring straight ahead, but not actually making eye contact, Ianto said quietly, "Yes, Sir." His jaw muscle twitched, and he looked in Jack's eyes, "But to be fair, you held a gun on me first… Sir."

Jack's eyes narrowed, and he continued as if Ianto hadn't spoken up. "Now you have two options." He gestured to the desk, and said, "Option one. You can take the white pills, and forget you ever worked here. Option two." Jack picked up the ruler and held it up for Ianto to see. "You bend over the desk, and I use this on your backside until I think you've paid for your actions."

Ianto shook his head, while looking back and forth between the pills and the ruler. He'd been working for Torchwood for a long time. He'd be forced to forget years. He'd forget the pain of losing Lisa, but he'd also forget the love they'd shared. He'd forget all the hours he spent with his co-workers. All the cases he'd helped resolve. He didn't want to forget, but he didn't want to be beaten either. He'd seen Jack like this before. The best word for it was committed. Jack believed in this course of action, and there would be no dissuading him. Ianto whispered, "Please Jack…"

Grabbing the younger man's upper arm, Jack gave him a little shake and said, "You choose in the next five minutes, or I'll decide for you."

Not trying to get out of Jack's grip, Ianto whispered, "You kissed me."

Jack let him go as if he'd been burned. "What?"

"Lisa choked me, and I passed out. I woke up in your arms. You'd just kissed me."

Lips tight with frustration, Jack tried to pretend it didn't matter. He looked at his watch and said, "Four minutes and fifty seconds."

"Why did you do it Jack? Was I… Was I dead?"

Jack almost wished he hadn't given him an option. He couldn't stand the thought of losing him from the team. But he had faith Ianto would make the right choice. Unable to stop himself, Jack put a hand on the side of Ianto's face and rubbed a thumb on his cheek. "You weren't dead yet. I can't bring people back to life. I just gave you a little… energy boost to help you heal and wake up."

"Why?"

"Because I believe you're a good man. You made a bad decision, but… you did it for love."

Those words made the decision easy. Ianto nodded once, and turned around to face the desk. He kneeled down slightly, lay his entire chest on the desk, and put both his hands behind his back. "You'll have to hold my wrists. I'm not good at taking pain."

Surprised at the candid honesty, and pleased at the decision, Jack put a hand on Ianto's shoulder and squeezed it once. "You made the right choice. If you'd left the decision up to me, it's what I would have done. I don't want you off the team." Letting go of the shoulder, Jack moved his hand down to grab both of Ianto's wrists in a firm grip, and said, "But if you're on the team, then you're damn well going to be honest with me, and you're going to obey my orders, even when you don't agree."

Ianto found himself close to tears, before the thrashing even started. It seemed he'd cried rivers over the past few days. He whispered, "Yes, Sir."

With determination, Jack smacked the ruler down in the middle of Ianto's behind. He heard the younger man gasp in pain, and swatted him again. By the tenth strike, Jack could tell Ianto was crying quietly. On the sixteenth strike, Jack had to tighten his grip, as he felt Ianto try to free his hands. When the spanking continued, and Ianto found his struggles useless, he yelled out, "Please Jack! I'm sorry! Honestly sorry for all of it! Please stop!"

Jack shook his head, and paused. "I'm glad you're sorry, but we're only half way to forty, and that's what you're getting, no matter how much we both hate it."

"Forty?!" Ianto couldn't fathom taking that much abuse on his already burning backside.

Snapping the ruler down at the end of each sentence, Jack said, "You lied to me! You hid things from me! You said your loyalty was to Lisa, instead of us, even after she'd killed the doctor! You ran back in here once we'd escaped, putting yourself in danger again! Forty is lenient!"

Ianto cried out with each swat, but the guilt that had been swirling around in his guts for the past three days, forced him to agree with Jack. Forty was excruciating, but still lenient. Jack could have easily slipped him the pills without ever giving him a choice.

Wanting to get it over with, Jack stopped talking and picked up the tempo of the swats, keeping track of how many he'd delivered. Ianto cried through them. Jack placed the last two swats slightly lower, where butt met thigh, and put more force behind them. Ianto let out a high pitched wail, before laying his forehead on the desk, and sobbing noisily.

Jack let go of Ianto's wrists, and set the ruler down next to the water. Ianto moved his arms to the front, and pushed himself slowly up off the desk with one hand, while he wiped at his face with the other. Once the younger man was upright, Jack pulled him into a hug, and rubbed his hand up and down the shaking back.

Ianto was too distraught to do anything other then cry on Jack's shoulder for the first few seconds. After a minute had passed, Ianto wrapped his arms around Jack as well, needing the human contact. Once the crying had died down, Jack said quietly, "Better?"

Ianto let go, nodded, and wiped at his face again.

The older man put a hand on Ianto's shoulder and said, "Alright, look at me."

Ianto found that difficult, but not impossible. Once their eyes met, Jack said, "I forgive you, and as far as I'm concerned we start fresh from this point on. You've paid for your mistakes, and we move forward. If any of the others try to give you grief about what happened, I'll stop them. But if you're angry, or think you were treated unfairly just now, this is the time to tell me. I'll listen and see what we can do to resolve that."

Ianto shook his head. "I'm not angry."

"The others won't be here for at least forty-five minutes. Go lie down on the couch and rest for half an hour, while you think that over. If you're able to give me the same answer after that, I'll believe you."

Half an hour later, Ianto convinced his boss that he wasn't angry. A few days later, once he could sit without wincing, he realized that he was glad Jack had done it, because a lot of his guilt had been alleviated.

# # #

Boxing Day 2006

Jack was brought out of his thoughts, when he felt one of Ianto's hands settle in the middle of his lower back. Half a second later, he felt Ianto's other hand smack down onto the right side of his butt. Jack clenched his jaw, purposely evened out his breathing, and held himself completely still.

Ianto's hand was a blur of movement, spanking as fast as he could while he spoke. "Jealous! You're jealous of that poor man who was just plucked away from his wife and child, simply because he was capable of killing himself? Does this mean you'd kill yourself if you could, Jack, because that's entirely unacceptable to me. The team needs you! Do you really think Gwen could keep Owen in line if you were gone? Not to mention that I need you! I already lost Lisa, and seeing you every day is the only thing that keeps me going." Finding himself too emotional to keep talking, Ianto concentrated on swatting every inch of his lover's behind.

Jack had listened intently to Ianto's lecture, and cringed in shame. He had way too many responsibilities to ever kill himself, and he knew it. Even if he was physically capable of killing himself, which he wasn't, he knew he'd never do it. No matter how tired he got, no matter how much he'd like to give up, he couldn't do that to the people who depended on him.

For a good two minutes, the only sounds in the room were of hand hitting clothing covered butt. Jack was stoic and still through the entire thing, even though it hurt. Frustrated by his lover's lack of response, either verbally, or physically, Ianto stopped as suddenly as he'd started. He let go of Jack, and took a step back.

Pushing himself upright, Jack turned to look at his lover, and felt even worse then before, when he saw that Ianto had tears on his cheeks. Jack raised a hand to wipe the tears, but Ianto stepped back, wiped his own face, and said, "Drop your pants."

"Ianto…"

"No. You do it, Jack."

With a tired sigh, Jack pulled the suspenders off, and unbuttoned his pants. They fell to the floor, and Jack said, "I'm sorry," before turning to the desk, and leaning back over.

The room was silent while Jack waited, and Ianto composed himself. He decided his hand wasn't doing the job, and scanned the desk for something to use. His eye fell on the pencil holder. Inside was a collapsible metal pointer. When collapsed it was the size of a thick pen, but when pulled out, it was three feet long. Ianto thought it would be a good makeshift cane.

Grabbing it, Ianto pulled it out to the full length, and looked at Jack's profile while Jack kept his eyes forward. The man's face was a tightly controlled mask of no expression. Ianto hooked his fingers in Jack's boxers, and pulled them down to mid thigh to inspect the damage so far. The skin was a distinct red all over, with a few spots that were darker.

Jack's eyebrows drew together in a slight frown that didn't reach his mouth. He found himself slightly uncomfortable with this turn of events, though he wasn't sure why. Ianto had seen him naked dozens of times, and Jack wasn't particularly modest in everyday life, but this was unpleasant. "I don't think you… Mmff."

Craning his neck back to see what he'd just been hit with, Jack saw the pointer in Ianto's hand. The two men made eye contact, and Ianto could tell the older man was nervous. He'd heard the surprised grunt of pain, and he'd seen Jack's body inch forward after the strike, in an effort to get away. "Right then. Let's have a little question and answer session. How many hours did you sit with John's body?"

With a glare in place, Jack balled his hands into fists, and turned his face forward again, determined to take whatever Ianto planned to dish out. "Three."

"And why was that Jack?"

With some confusion, Jack looked back at his lover. He'd been expecting at least one swat per answer, but Ianto was just standing there with the pointer held down beside his leg. They made eye contact, and Jack said, "What?"

"Why did you sit with the dead body for three hours?"

"Why does it matter?"

Ianto grabbed a fist full of Jack's shirt near the middle of his back. The pointer made a swishing sound through the air, as Ianto brought it down twice. Jack grunted, and struggled to stay put. The pointer left slightly raised lines of skin at each impact point. "I said we're having a question and answer session. Not a question and question session. You'd best start giving me some answers, or we'll be here a long time. Why did you sit with him for three hours?"

Frustrated with the pain and the questions, Jack said, "I don't know!"

"Did you believe you were doing the right thing, when you got in the car and let John kill himself?"

"Well, yes, but now… Ow!"

"I didn't ask you what you thought now, I asked you if you thought you were doing the right thing at the time. Yes or no please."

Jack growled out a loud and angry, "Yes!"

The pointer swished down two more times. "Ah! Ow!"

"You don't get to have an attitude with me about this. You'll answer me respectfully. I'm doing this to help you, and you're going to let me."

Jack's stomach clenched at that. He knew Ianto wouldn't be doing this unless he thought it would help, and Ianto always showed him respect. Looking back at his lover, Jack said, "You're right. I'm sorry. I'll try harder."

"Thank you. By the time you got back here, you were second guessing your decision?"

Jack looked away. "Yes."

"What were you thinking about while you sat next to John?"

"It was three hours. I thought about a lot of things."

"Generalize and condense them for me."

After a long sigh, Jack said, "I started out thinking about John's life since he'd been here. That led me to think about my life. Which led me to thinking about death. Deaths I've seen, deaths I've caused, and my own death. Lack of death really."

Keeping the fist full of Jack's shirt in his hand, Ianto said, "Look at me." Once he had eye contact, he said, "It's understandable, but wrong, to second guess yourself like you have been tonight. You did what you thought was right for John. The only reason you're having doubts is because you spent three hours feeling sorry for yourself. You weren't projecting your own issues on John before he killed himself. You weren't trying to experience his death vicariously. You were being the leader I know you are. You made a hard decision, and stuck to it, no matter who might think it was wrong."

Jack felt a couple of tears spill down his own face at those words. He never would have guessed that Ianto could have such insight into what made him tick. He wouldn't have been able to see it for himself, but as soon as Ianto said he'd been feeling sorry for himself, he knew without a doubt that it was true. And seeing the utter faith and devotion in Ianto's face when he mentioned Jack's leadership abilities, only served to deepen the guilt and shame he felt at having messed up.

Ianto saw the tears, and said in a much more gentle voice, "Six more, and we'll be done. Two for each hour that you sat with John, when you should have been here with me."

With a barely discernible nod of understanding, Jack turned his face forward again, and braced himself.

Now that he knew he'd gotten through to Jack, Ianto found it more difficult to follow through. When he'd started spanking the older man, he'd been angry, and that had fueled his determination. But now as he looked at Jack's blotchy red backside, he had trouble bringing himself to do it. Taking a deep breath, Ianto forced himself to stick with his decision.

Jack heard the whistle of the pointer before it made contact, and couldn't contain the noise of distress that came out of his mouth, even though he tried. By the time he'd received all six stripes of fierce pain, he was breathing in short harsh gasps, and there were fresh tears on his face.

Feeling slightly sick to his stomach, Ianto released the handful of Jack's shirt, and smoothed it down on his back. He collapsed the pointer, and tossed it in the garbage can next to the desk. With a shaky voice, he said, "It's done… are… are you alright?"

Standing up, Jack wiped the tears off his face, and pulled up his boxers, before turning to look at his lover. He sniffed loudly and said, "Yeah, I'm alright. Are you alright?"

Ianto shook his head no, and a few tears went down his face. Voice rough with emotion, Jack said, "Com'ere," as he pulled the younger man into a strong hug. Even though he doubted it was fair to Jack, Ianto couldn't stop himself from quietly crying on his shoulder. Rubbing a hand up and down Ianto's back, Jack kissed his forehead, and said, "Hey, it's gonna be okay. You did the right thing here, and I'm grateful."

After a few seconds, Ianto said, "Grateful?"

Squeezing him a little tighter, Jack said, "Grateful that I have a friend and lover who will call me on it when I'm too full of self pity to see straight." He felt Ianto holding on tighter, and after a few seconds, the crying stopped altogether. Jack whispered, "I'm sorry I slipped. It won't happen again."

Feeling better, Ianto pushed away slightly so he could look in Jack's eyes. "If it does, I'll be here to call you on it, no matter how much I hate it."

They shared a deep kiss before letting each other go. Jack pulled up his pants, and as he was putting the suspenders on, Ianto stuck his hands in his pockets and said, "It's Boxing Day. Everyone's on holiday. Would you like to come spend the day at my flat?"

"Sounds perfect." Jack smirked and added, "As long as we don't have to take your car."

Ianto snorted a laugh and said, "Definitely."

# # #

Ianto drove the company car towards his flat, while Jack fidgeted, and shifted his weight repeatedly, trying to alleviate some of the pain. As they pulled up to Ianto's building, Jack noticed that almost every building on the block was lit up. The sun hadn't come up yet, and the lights stood out brilliantly in the dark. Jack said, "Let's take a walk and look at the Christmas lights."

"You want to look at the fairy lights?"

Jack shuddered as he thought about real fairies, and the death and destruction they could cause. "No, I want to look at the Christmas lights. You guys have that one all wrong."

With a smile, Ianto said, "Sure, Jack."

Hand in hand, they walked silently down the street, their breath visible in the chilly morning air. Jack found that his opinion on the lights had changed over the past hour. They no longer represented the chasm that separated the joyful people and the depressed people in the world during Christmas. Instead they represented the connection those people shared, and the hope that they might give to each other.

Two blocks away from Ianto's flat, Jack could hear the younger man's teeth clattering together from the cold. Letting go of Ianto's hand, Jack took his jacket off and put it on Ianto's shoulders. Teeth still chattering, Ianto said, "Thanks. I should have grabbed my winter coat first."

Jack put his arm around his shoulders; pulling him in close to share body heat, and turned them around to head back. With a smile, he said, "You're not really dressed for this kind of weather."

In between shivers, Ianto said, "Aren't you cold?"

"Nope."

"You're awfully chipper for someone who just got caned," Ianto grumbled.

Laughing out loud, Jack said, "What is it with you Britains and your canes anyway?"

Feeling warmer, and smiling too, Ianto said, "What is it with you Americans and your switches?"

"Good point. I have no idea. I'm happy because I feel better then I have since John and the others arrived."

Giving his lover a sideways glance, Ianto said with disbelief, "Better? When I was the one with a bruised backside, I didn't feel like walking anywhere for fun."

Jack's smile went away and he said, "Bruised? I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to bruise."

Blushing slightly, Ianto mumbled, "Just a couple of small ones, but they were down low where most of the pressure was whenever I'd sit." Looking up at Jack he added in a stronger voice, "But I'm not complaining. I deserved it."

Jack gave him a quick kiss, and Ianto added, "And I'm sure you'll have quite a few by tonight. I'm sorry I was so… harsh."

"You needed to be harsh to get me to listen, but I won't have any bruises."

Shaking his head, Ianto said, "You didn't see your backside, Jack. You will."

"I won't. It will be healed in a couple of hours."

After thinking about that for a few seconds, Ianto realized it would be true. "Well that's not exactly fair is it?"

Jack laughed. "Didn't you just spank me for saying something similar? I know it's not fair. I have no control over it, my body just heals itself, no matter what I want it to do."

"Point taken."

They'd made it to Ianto's building, and he dug out his keys. As soon as they were in Ianto's flat with the door closed behind them, Jack pulled his lover in for a long and demanding kiss. With a hand on the side of Ianto's face, Jack said, "I saw a side of you tonight that I haven't seen before. The way you took control… told me what to do… in a different setting, that could be very sexy."

With his eyes dilated, and his face flushed, Ianto said, "Sexy?"

"If you ever want to bring some of that to the bedroom, I'd be more then willing."

Ianto pulled his lover into another passionate kiss, and started to unbutton his shirt. Jack slowly moved the two of them towards the bedroom, while they were both kissing and undressing the other.