I meant to have this up yesterday, but the Dr Who Christmas special intervened! It follows on from 'The Night Before Christmas'. Might make sense if you haven't read that, but I doubt it.
Happy New Year Everyone
Dear St Nicholas
I've spent the afternoon helping my niece and nephew write thank you note to you, so I thought I should write one of my own, too. I don't know whether this will get to you, or how, but I hope that it does. It might go some small way towards making up for my lack of conversation last night. I'm not much of a talker, and I must confess meeting a – would it be too rude to say myth? - was somewhat overwhelming. I apologize for the frequent goldfish impressions. I'll try to be past that by next year.
Ianto frowned at the screen. Was he being presumptuous? But no, Nick had actually said he'd enjoyed meeting Ianto (Santa likes me!) and Jack had already asked him to stay in the Hub next Christmas Eve.
In the kitchen, Jack frowned at the stack of leftovers Rhiannon had pressed on them as they left. "I'm thinking roast pork sandwiches," Jack suggested.
"With apple sauce, thanks," Ianto called back.
So, on with the Thanks. Thank you for the train set. It was exactly the one I asked for eighteen years ago, so I must congratulate you on your record keeping! Jack was bit put out because he'd somehow sneaked out and bought one too, but he was delighted to discover they were compatible. He had a great time setting it up and has been sending me lewd notes by rail all evening.
Ianto paused. Perhaps one shouldn't say 'lewd' to Santa. Then again, Santa had known Jack for a hundred years, so it couldn't really be a shock. Lewd and Jack went together like roast pork and apple sauce. Ianto grinned at the tottering stack of folded post-it notes beside his keyboard. If Jack intended to follow through on even half of the suggestions in that pile, it was going to be a very Merry Christmas night indeed.
I know I'm too old to be asking things from Santa Claus, but there's just one thing that never would have made it onto my childhood wish lists.
You said Jack isn't lonely now. Maybe he's not, and I like to think I've had something to do with that. But if it's true, then I worry about him after I've gone. I'm only mortal but he's not, and neither, I have to assume, are you.
"Whatcha doing?" The desk creaked as the exuberant weight of one Captain Harkness landed on it. Bearing a plate of sandwiches.
"Writing a letter to Santa," Ianto explained, taking a sandwich and hoeing in. Jack made very good sandwiches, generous on the meat and not too much butter. He'd slipped in a slice of lettuce or two, part of the ongoing 'eat more vegetables' campaign.
"You're supposed to do that before Christmas," Jack pointed out, sliding one hand towards the mouse while the other performed various attempts at distraction, all of which seemed to involve Ianto's ticklish spots. Ianto resisted heroically, managed to get the file closed without dropping his sandwich, and smirked gleefully while Jack tried to reopen it. "You didn't use any of your usual passwords," he complained, after several fruitless attempts.
"I thought of new ones after you hacked into my Facebook page," Ianto said smugly, "and Rhi's kids always write thank you notes and put them under the tree Christmas Night, so there's precedent."
"OK. You win, this time." Jack grinned broadly and hooked a leg around the base of Ianto's chair. The castors squeaked as the chair rolled sideways, but within seconds Jack's knees cradled Ianto's ribs between them, and a completely different level of distraction ensued.
So here's my last ever request to Santa. Just keep an eye on him for me, would you? Try to make sure he doesn't get too lonely after I'm gone. I'd say keep him out of trouble, but you work enough miracles as it is, so I won't ask for that one as well.
It was a privilege to meet you. Hope I'll be there to see you next year, but with Torchwood, you never know!
Humans needed oxygen, even Jack. "I liked them," Jack said quietly, his forehead still resting against Ianto's. "Your family." He drew slightly back from the embrace with his mouth quirking into a cheeky grin. "Especially Aunt Myfanwy."
Ianto's smile mirrored his. "Did you pick the resemblance?"
"Has to be the nose," Jack agreed.
"And the way her chin reaches up to meet it," Ianto added.
Jack tapped Ianto's nose. "You should have warned me, though. She must have thought I was demented."
"She thought you had a lovely laugh," Ianto answered, smiling sweetly. "Actually, she thought you were lovely, full stop."
The teasing expression dropped away. "They all thought you were lovely. The whole family liked you, and that's no mean feat."
"Yeah, they liked your friend from work," Jack agreed, emphasizing the friend, with the patented Harkness pout much in evidence.
Ianto shoved his chair away, rolling back to arms length, regarding Jack with the serious expression usually reserved for misfiling.
"You wouldn't be implying you aren't my friend, I suppose?" Jack's eyes dropped, examining the scratches the castors had made in the floorboards.
Christmas night probably wasn't the best time for this. But Jack had brought it up, and maybe there never would be a best time. Ianto heaved in a steadying breath and let out words that had been straining to escape for months.
"I do try to respect your abhorrence of labels, Jack, but this is the 21st century, and people expect them. You are my friend, and you are my boss. If you aren't happy being introduced with either of them, tell me what other label to hang on you, or me for that matter, and I'll use it gladly."
After a few moments of silent contemplation, Jack pushed away from the desk and disappeared into the spare room. Ianto sighed and re-read his letter. Obviously he'd been flattering himself to think he'd made a dent in the shield Jack surrounded himself with. His hand shook slightly as the mouse hovered over the 'delete' key.
He spun around, one finger clicking the mouse, as Jack clattered back into the lounge room, hands firmly behind his back.
"Your label," he announced, slapping one of the hidden hands onto Ianto's chest. Ianto snickered as the hand fell away to reveal a sticky Christmas gift tag.
"Clever," he admitted.
"Read it," Jack invited.
"It's upside down," Ianto complained, squinting. Jack's handwriting was a challenge on a good day. Deciphering it upside down in a position difficult to reach without a swan neck was too much of an effort for Christmas night.
He made it out eventually. In the 'To' box, it simply said. "Jack."
Jack covered the label with his hand again. Ianto wondered if he could feel the heart stuttering beneath it. "So that makes you mine," Jack said.
He wasn't quite looking at Ianto as he spoke. Made it a bit difficult to tell whether this was some sort of joke.
"What about you?" Ianto asked eventually, delaying a response. "I notice you appear to be label free still, sticky or otherwise."
"I have one," Jack announced. "It's hidden." He spread his arms invitingly, displaying the childlike grin that always looked so wrong given it usually accompanied very unchildlike activities.
Ianto smiled crookedly. "Let me guess, I've got find it, right?"
The childlike smile morphed into that one, the one Ianto was far more comfortable with, and the tension dissolved. Ianto tried not to mind that Jack had sidestepped what might have been The Talk, yet again.
After a short and enjoyable search Ianto did find the label, enhancing what he had to admit was one of his most preferred views. The rather perfect Harkness posterior, complete with its own sticky Christmas label. 'To Ianto.'
It should have been funny. It was funny. But even to his own ears, Ianto's laugh sounded forced. Apply even the slightest symbolism to this and Jack had claimed Ianto's heart, and offered his arse in return. A damning and possibly accurate reflection of their relationship.
Jack's head tilted enquiringly at the off-key laughter. "You twit," he said finally, making Ianto cringe at how easily Jack could read him now. "You over-analyse everything. I just wanted to put the damned thing where you wouldn't see it straight away." He slid a firm hand under Ianto's chin. "It is attached to the rest of me, in case you haven't noticed."
Maybe Jack could read him far too easily, but Ianto realized now that worked both ways. There was undeniable sincerity in the eyes that pinned his own, shrouded with fear, and Ianto wished he hadn't deleted that letter after all.
"So do I get to unwrap my present?" he asked, using his best seductive voice, which still wasn't a patch on Jack's.
"Not here," Jack answered, eyes sparkling. "The floor's covered in train tracks. Someone'll get injured."
Ianto laughed, a real laugh this time. "Go on then, I'll be there in a minute."
Jack bounded off to the bedroom. Ianto turned back to the desk to shut down the computer.
Odd. The letter was still there. And there was a sheet of paper lying in the printer. Ianto examined it and concluded he must have hit print instead of delete. When he eventually rose from the desk, the letter was still in his hand. Might as well, he decided, laying the sheet at the base of the Christmas tree. After all, the worst that can happen is it goes into the bin tomorrow, instead.
The bedroom door closed behind him, and soon the letter, labels, and everything else was forgotten.
The glow of the tiniest of Rift openings beneath the Christmas tree wasn't bright enough to disturb them, or large enough to register.
But when Ianto looked for the letter the next day, it was gone.
Hope you liked. Happy New Year everyone.