It's cold when Ianto pulls up into the car park, but it isn't bitter. There are lights hanging from every tree, drawing him down the path, following the crowd of people through the main doors of the church. The Christmas tree stands proud in a corner, greeting them as they take their seat, a glorious sight of red and gold. The church still has the old wooden pews and Ianto can't help but remember the first time he attended midnight mass. It was his first Christmas in London (and with Lisa) and he felt it fitted his image now – flash suit, steady job in the city – all a million miles away from the estate in Cardiff. They'd gone together and afterwards it hadn't snowed, but the night was clear and perfectly still and they'd wandered down the street hand in hand.
Ianto hadn't gone last Christmas, the loss of Lisa still too sour (or so he told himself, as he lay in bed, Jack's arms wrapped around him), so this year he's made up his mind – he's not left work until half eleven anyway and its more by chance than any proper decision that he finds himself turning down the road to the church rather than the road home.
The start of the service shakes him out of his thoughts and as he rises from the first carol he puts them well out of his mind, there are some things he doesn't really want to think about, at least until Christmas is over.
When the mass is over he is among the first to head for the door. After all, he doesn't really know anyone and he really should get home quickly if he wants any sleep at all – the next day might well be Christmas, but that doesn't mean the aliens give it a rest. Stepping outside he feels something cold land on his face and tilts his head back. The sky is filled with thick cloud and flowing down are the first snowflakes of the year. Letting them collect on his thick winter-coat he walks slowly to his car, admiring how the snow is caught by the floodlights that illuminate the path.
As he pulls out his keys he suddenly sees a dark figure lent against the passenger door and takes a step backwards before he realises its Jack, waiting for him. Quite how he knew where to come, Ianto isn't sure (although he suspects an unfair use of the CCTV network) but somehow it doesn't matter, because just for that moment he can have the perfect white Christmas.
We try and play it like we're adults, like this is real. It isn't, you know. It's all up there, all in your head. This is just your imagination. Don't ask how you've dreamt this one up, but you have all the same. Your singular, twisted little mind has taken you where you never imagined you'd go. Nice, isn't it, how you've kept everything looking the same. The wind still blows the rain every which way and house is exactly the way you left it when you ran out on them.
You could change it, you know. You can smash a window, force a few tiles off the roof, churn the garden into thick mud and no one's going to stop you, no one would dare. You're the lord and master of all and it's never felt better. Every spiteful, jealous little dream you've ever had can come true and you're going to make them pay for what they said.
In the morning when you wake up, when you realise you're dreaming this all, what will you do? Will it make you feel sick for a while? Do you think you can wash it all away in the shower? So that by the time you've drunk your first coffee and are pulling on your coat it'll all go back to normal? Or maybe this is normal to you. Maybe every night you spend alone is spent like this. You're becoming desensitised to the whole thing and perhaps that's what should make you feel worse.