Author's Note: Story dedicated to Peregrine Ionad, who requested a story that wasn't Christmassy. So she got Christmas, but in Australia. Close enough?


Ianto pinched the bridge of his nose and rubbed his forehead tiredly. "I'm sorry, Mum, there's nothing I can do about it," he told her again.

"Why do they need you? Does your boss need you that badly?"

He sighed and looked up towards Jack's office, catching a glimpse of his guilty look, and decided that now was as good a time as any. "Actually, they only need me until the twenty third, but Jack has to stay until the twenty seventh, and we've decided to make a holiday of it."

"So you'd rather go on holiday with your boss than spend Christmas with us?"

"Sorry, but I would rather spend my Christmas with my boyfriend than on the opposite side of the planet from him," he told her. "I'd like to be able to do both, but I can't," the silence continued and he had to fill it, "And who could pass up the opportunity for Christmas in Australia?"

His mum cleared her throat and he found himself holding his breath. "Well, if you put it that way... Not Christmas in Australia, Christmas with... with him. Really, Ianto?"

"Yeah, really," he confirmed quietly.

"Well then, have a lovely Christmas, and you'd better come and see me before you go! And... bring him with you, if you're ready for that?"

He sagged with relief and gave Jack a thumbs up. "I'd like that. How are you set next Sunday?"

"I'll put you on the calendar. Do I assume that I'm not inviting your sister around?" she asked more confidently.

Jack emerged from his office, stunning in a deep plum shirt and black trousers. He leaned in the doorway with his hands in his pockets and watched Ianto, smiling gently at Ianto's captivated expression. He finally remembered his mum on the other end of the phone and dragged himself back to her as soon as he remembered what she'd asked. "Probably best," he agreed at last. "I'll tell her... sometime. I just remember what she's usually like with my girlfriends and, well, promise you won't breath a word of this?"

"Ianto? I promise..."

He looked up at Jack and leaned back into the large hands that landed on his shoulders. "He is gorgeous, and she is probably going to kill me out of jealousy", he stated matter-of-factly. "Honestly, stunning."

"I am looking forwards to Sunday," she chuckled.

"Mum!" Ianto groaned, partly in exasperation and partly at the action of Jack's hands on his shoulders. "You're not allowed to flirt with Jack, alright?"

"Yes, dear," she agreed in roughly the same tone of voice that Jack used when he promised to leave Ianto alone during the day at work.

"Love you, Mum," he told her and hung up, then tipped his head back to look up at Jack. "She took it well. I think I may survive not being here for Christmas after all."

Jack laughed and bent to kiss him, increasing the pressure of his hands on Ianto's shoulders. "I'm really looking forwards to it," he told Ianto's upside down face.

Christmas Day – Australia.

Jack was standing by the window when Ianto awoke. He was dressed in baggy khaki shorts and a short sleeved white shirt, hands in his pockets and forehead leaning against the glass. A cool breeze blew in through the open window and stirred the curtains, and Ianto turned his face into it gratefully and closed his eyes again. "Merry Christmas, Jack," he called out groggily, stretching out under the light covers and searching for another cool patch to put his feet in. By the window, Jack turned and smiled at him, his smile nearly brighter than the morning sun – Ianto realised that he was decidedly soppy this morning, but let himself off as it was Christmas.

"Merry Christmas," Jack bent down and picked up a chilled bottle of champagne and brought it and two champagne flutes over to the bed. He settled back against the headboard and Ianto settled his head against Jack's stomach whilst Jack popped the cork with strong fingers and filled the two flutes. "To family and friends, and to us," he proposed as Ianto sat up and took the glass.

"To us," Ianto raised his glass and clinked it with Jack's, then kissed him before taking a sip. "I have to say, as strange as the concept of waking up on Christmas morning and not clinging to you because it's so bloody cold is, I'm quite enjoying this."

Jack laughed and kissed him – he tasted of champagne. "And I'm pleased to find out that it's not just the cold that makes you snuggly."

"I'm not snuggly," he stated firmly. "I'm just tactile."

"So that's what they're calling it these days," Jack teased as he drew Ianto back to his side. "You know I don't mind what you call it, as long as you are it."

Ianto downed the last of his glass and set it aside so that he could curl properly against Jack again. Jack's hand came to rest on his head and his fingers tangled in his hair, scratching lightly as if Ianto were a cat. Apart from the fact that he quite enjoyed the sensation, Ianto would let Jack do what he liked at times like this, because if Ianto was tactile, Jack was on a completely different level – he suspected that it was the implied trust that he was placing in Jack, especially after the number of times that Jack had suffered at someone else's hands and his long separation from human contact. He wouldn't tell Ianto what he remembered of being buried under Cardiff, nor exactly what had transpired on the Valiant, but after the former he'd craved touch constantly, whereas after the latter he'd shunned it, flinching from Ianto's more tactile moments as though he expected the touches to hurt. Ianto kissed his stomach and felt Jack's hand slide down to rub at the nape of his neck, then kissed his way up Jack's chest until he had to kneel up to reach his mouth. Jack wrapped large, warm hands around his biceps and opened his mouth to let Ianto in. Ianto pulled back before very long, though, and sighed, flexing the fingers of one hand against Jack's chest and resting the other against the headboard. "There is one problem with Australia," he complained. "It's too hot."

Jack laughed and stretched up to kiss him gently, just brushing their lips together, then settled down again. "It is. So I was thinking we should do something cooler today."

"What are you thinking?" Ianto flopped to his side next to Jack and traced patterns on his chest.

"Well, I thought we could take the car down the coast a way, roof down, wind in our hair, whenfind a quiet-ish beach and enjoy the sun, swim in the ocean when we get too hot. Sound good?"

"Sounds excellent," Ianto told him. "You've packed the picnic?"

"I might have," Jack confirmed, sitting up and reaching for the bottle again. Ianto held out the two flutes and they settled back for a while longer, content to stay there whilst it was still reasonably cool (even if it was never a reasonable temperature for a Welshman).

It was the hottest time of the day, and Ianto was stretched out on his front, eyes shut, trying to sleep through it. Jack was coping better than Ianto was, having grown up in temperatures like this, but even he felt himself wilting. The sand underneath them was burning hot, even with a towel between them and it, and it stuck to them uncomfortably. Still, the view from where Jack was sitting was good – Ianto's usually pale skin had taken a tan surprisingly well, and there was a scattering of freckles across his shoulders that looked like someone had flicked paint over him, and his arm was folded over his face to hide it behind the smooth curve of well-developed muscle, built up through physical work rather than an intensive work-out regime. Ianto's eye opened and peered over his arm at Jack, and Jack grinned. "Jack, 's 'ot," he pointed out.

Peeling Ianto's arm away and ignoring his protests, Jack pulled Ianto to his feet and pushed him in the direction of the ocean. "Come on then," he encouraged him. "Time to cool off."

They picked their way through between the families playing on the beach, leaping across the moat that a group of children had dug around their gathered parents. There were several parties going around them, barbecues and picnics being eaten, and Jack felt guilty for taking Ianto away from his family at this time of year. They'd called his family before they went to bed the night before, so he'd spoken to them, but it wasn't the same. Still, he couldn't complain as Ianto walked gingerly into the water ahead of him, making almost pornographic noises of pleasure at the cold against his skin. Jack passed him and swam out into deeper water where he could flip onto his back and float idly. He realised that he could get in big trouble doing that on the ocean, but it was far too pleasant to do anything about it.

It was Ianto's call that eventually made him push himself upright in the water again and take stock of where he was. He'd drifted quite a way, judging by where Ianto was standing with the water up to his chest, and Ianto was watching him in fond amusement. Jack waved and started swimming back towards Ianto and dived once he got close enough so that he could surface right in front of Ianto. He cupped his face and kissed him. Ianto pulled back, pulling a face at the taste of salt-water on Jack's lips, but kissed him again and brushed his tongue across Jack's lips. Jack held him close and, for once, thanked Torchwood's outdated protocol, for giving them this Christmas in Paradise.