Title: The Course of Christmas Never Did Run Smooth
Author: Erin Giles
Disclaimer: Torchwood is the intellectual property of the BBC.
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, OCs (Rhiannon, Finn, Rona)
A/N: electrictoes and I agreed to write kid-fic this year where Jack and Ianto went to visit Santa with the kids. It's Christmas again in the Footprints in the Sand series and Finn wants to wish a special Merry Christmas to the sparkly pinkfairy727. This is for you, sweetie. Also I know that children aren't allowed to sit on Santa's lap anymore but I did when I was a kid.
Summary: Christmas is never a relaxing affair, especially not when you're Ianto Jones. Rona wants to go meet Santa, Finn has a fascination with ice skating, Jack keeps making jokes at his expense and if Ianto had only one wish this Christmas it would be that none of this was happening to him.
Ianto was trying to fumble open a packet of biscuits, one handed, in the kitchen when the doorbell went. He gave the biscuits one last tug with his teeth in annoyance and watched them explode and skitter away across the work surface, leaving a trail of crumbs behind them. He sighed and went to get the door.
'Oh, you're home,' Rhiannon said in surprise as Finn dived round Ianto's legs. Ianto got a brief hello out of him as overnight bags were dumped at his feet and Finn vanished into the living room.
'How you coping?' Rhiannon asked, indicating Ianto's arm with a nod of the head. Ianto made a face that expressed nothing in particular apart from his confusion as to why his sister was on his doorstep in the middle of the afternoon.
'I need you to watch the kids this weekend since you're not doing anything.'
'Can't do anything,' Ianto said, as the television in his living room switched on, his nephew flicking channels like it was the next Olympic sport.
'Well you're not at work,' Rhiannon said as she hoisted Rona higher on her hip.
'I can't work, I've only got one good hand,' Ianto said, looking down at his arm, bound tightly in a sling to his chest.
'And whose fault is that?'
'Not mine,' Ianto said. Rhiannon just glared.
'Look, Jack can come over and give you a hand.'
'Then we'll have three good hands.' Although, Ianto didn't particularly know how helpful Jack would be since he currently thought it was hilarious that Ianto had only one good arm.
Rhiannon looked relieved at this piece of information. 'One for each child and a spare one left over, then,' she joked.
Ianto glared. He didn't appreciate humour when he was in a significant amount of pain, but that wasn't what was annoying him most. 'How do you know Jack can come over anyway?'
'I called him on the way over here.'
'Oh, did you?'
'Look, Ianto, Ryan's mam's in hospital and we can't take the kids with us, have some sympathy, yeah,' Rhiannon said as she let Rona, who was wriggling to get free, down. Ianto's eyes widened ever so slightly and he looked down almost incredulously at his arm.
'I can't quite recall what sympathy is. Maybe you could refresh my memory with a demonstration?'
Rhiannon wasn't listening. She was bent down beside her daughter trying to remove her shoes and coat. She straightened herself back up, reaching to hang up Rona's winter coat while Rona ran into the living room after her brother.
'Oh, also we were supposed to take them to see Santa at the Winter Wonderland this weekend. You don't mind do you?'
Jack turned up while Ianto was still struggling to clear up the biscuits while Rona watched him from the door of the kitchen.
'Rhi popped round then,' Jack said in greeting.
'Uncle Jack hug.' Rona giggled and held out her arms to be lifted up. Jack obliged, greeting her with a stupid voice that he claimed was whale speak. Rona giggled again and Ianto sighed.
'Thanks for the advanced warning.'
'I was going to call, but Gwen was talking in my ear about being understaffed and Christmas shopping and other things I wasn't really interested in, so I decided to run away instead.'
Rona had her thumb in her mouth now as she leaned against Jack's shoulder, watching Ianto struggling to continue to clean up the work surface.
'Ianto, leave that, I'll do it,' said Jack, reaching out his free had to pick up the cloth from the sink. He started trying to clean up the mess with one hand, causing more crumbs to fall to the floor. Ianto and Jack banged into each other when they both bent to get to the floor.
'Sorry. Sorry,' Jack said as Ianto hissed in pain, his brow furrowing as he grabbed for his injured shoulder. Jack pulled one of the kitchen table chairs out and guided Ianto onto it with a hand at his elbow.
'I'll finish cleaning up.'
'Jack, I can't even clean up my own kitchen by myself. Why did you think it would be a good idea to say to Rhi that we could look after the kids this weekend?'
Jack looked shifty for a minute as Rona pulled her thumb out of her mouth with a pop. 'We're going to see Father Christmas tomorrow.'
'I know, are you excited?' Jack asked. Ianto's eyes narrowed. Rona was nodding enthusiastically.
'Is that why you said yes?'
'Is what why I said yes?'
'You want to go and see Santa don't you?'
'They call him Father Christmas in Wales.'
'They call him Siôn Corn but that's not the point, Jack.'
Jack didn't say anything, just went back to trying to clear up the mess of crumbs on the floor, flicking the kettle on so that it drowned out any more accusations Ianto directed towards him.
Father Christmas smelt funny. And Uncle Ianto wouldn't come near him. He'd moaned about going to see him the whole way on the bus, and Uncle Jack had said that he was being ridiculous and had an irrational phobia, but Rona didn't know what that meant.
Finn had been reluctant to come, but Uncle Jack had dangled presents in front of him like a carrot. So now it was Rona's turn to sit on Father Christmas' knee and all she could think about was how he smelt funny. Not like Christmas at all.
'And what would you like for Christmas this year?'
Rona had spent a lot of time deliberating this. She'd been thinking about it on the bus into town and the walk up to the Winter Wonderland, clutching onto her Uncle Ianto's hand tightly so they could cross the road safely. She glanced over at her Uncle Ianto stood beside the mouth of the Grotto, an encouraging smile on his face.
She mumbled what she wanted to Father Christmas and his beard tickled her cheek as he ducked his head to hear her.
'What was that, sweetheart? You'll need to speak up so I can hear you.'
'For my Uncle Ianto not to get hurt anymore,' she said only slightly louder so Father Christmas could hear. She looked over to Uncle Ianto who was bent down trying to help Finn unwrap the present he'd just received from Father Christmas. When she looked back at Santa he was looking at her Uncle Ianto too.
'Is that your Uncle Ianto over there?'
'He gets hurt all the time, and Mummy gets scared and sometimes we have to go to the hospital to visit him.'
Steve – the guy who was wearing the red suit – felt uncomfortable. He couldn't promise a small child that their Uncle wouldn't get hurt anymore. Especially not when this bloke was clearly gay if the hovering bloke in fancy dress was anything to go by and probably got beat up regularly because of it.
'Anything else you'd like for Christmas?'
Ianto turned round to find Gwen stood before him, a smile on her face and a rosy glow on her cheeks. Rhys was stood not far behind with an armful of bags that Gwen had obviously foisted on him. The resignation of a man been dragged Christmas shopping written all over his face.
'And who's this little ladybug?' Gwen asked, crouching down to child height where Rona was half hiding behind Ianto's leg.
'You being shy, now?' Ianto asked, a hand on top of Rona's head, pulling her red and black spotted hat back out of her eyes.
'What happened to you?' Rhys asked, eyeing up Ianto's arm in its sling.
'Oh, it was an accident,' Ianto said. 'Not work related, just me being clumsy,' Ianto added, interpreting the look on Rhys' face as one of worry for his wife; again.
'He won't tell us what happened,' Gwen said, pulling herself back up to her full height. 'Which makes me think it was something,' Gwen looked down at Rona still hiding behind Ianto's leg, 'embarrassing,' she whispered.
Ianto's ears turned red.
'What have you been up to today then?' Rhys asked, attempting to wipe the confused look off of Rona's face.
'We went to see Santa, didn't we?' Ianto asked looking down at Rona who nodded enthusiastically if still a little bashfully.
'Did your brother not want to come and meet Father Christmas?' Gwen asked.
'He did, he's off skating with Uncle Jack now, isn't he?' Ianto said. Rona was pulling on the bottom of Ianto's coat now, clearly wanting to be lifted up.
'I can't, bach,' Ianto apologised, gripping Rona's hand instead.
'I wanna go watch the skating,' Rona said. Ianto looked pained for a moment but in the next moment he could have married Rhys Williams himself. Rhys dumped the shopping bags at Gwen's feet as he bent down to Rona's height.
'Why don't I take you over there, lovely?' Rhys asked, holding out a hand towards her. 'We can have a good giggle at your brother and Jack falling over, yeah?'
Rona hesitated slightly, but Ianto gave her a small smile and a less than subtle push towards Rhys. She shuffled towards him and took his outstretched hand but before he could get to his feet again she was moving into Rhys' arms to be lifted up. Ianto could almost feel Gwen weakening at the knees as she watched her husband with a child.
'You could have her if you like, I don't think Rhiannon would mind,' Ianto said. Gwen looked like she was briefly considering kid-napping before she laughed and Ianto started adjusting his sling, grimacing.
'How you getting on, sweetheart?'
'It would be a lot easier if my sister hadn't dumped her kids on me this weekend,' said Ianto. 'But Jack's been helpful,' Ianto added somewhat reluctantly.
'It happens on occasion. I think he's feeling a bit guilty, though.'
Ianto shook his head and continued to try and adjust his sling. Gwen reached out to help him while Ianto held his arm immobile with the one that was still working.
'You know no matter how helpful you are, or how nice, I'm not going to tell you how it happened,' said Ianto as Gwen pulled back, one hand still lingering on the strap she'd just finished fixing.
'I'm just concerned.'
Ianto laughed. 'No, you're just nosy.'
Gwen made a face at him, crossing her arms over her chest.
'All you need to know is I broke my collar bone, it was embarrassing, Jack was present and now I feel like a prat because I can't even open a packet of biscuits without re-injuring myself.'
Gwen's shoulders slumped slightly and she took the look of annoyance off her face as she bent to retrieve the shopping bags Rhys had left behind. She reached for Ianto's free hand then, walking with him towards the ice skating rink to find Rhys and Rona watching Finn skidding across the ice with a surprisingly graceful Jack in tow. Ianto's brow darkened slightly, but Gwen was too busy watching Rhys and Rona out of the corner of her eye, her ovaries doing somersaults.
Rhys let Rona down as Finn skated into the side of the barrier to stop and Jack gracefully slide to a halt beside them.
Rona kept putting a fire engine red welly boot onto the edge of the ice, testing it's slippiness while Jack teased Rhys about his uses as a pack mule for Christmas gifts. Rona was two steps onto the ice rink before Ianto realised Gwen was lunging for her, but Rona was already on skinned knees by Jack's feet, crying real tears.
'Is this one of those, I've fallen and I can't get up moments?' Jack asked from where he was stood by the living room door, watching Ianto leaning against the sofa.
'No, this was a Ianto forget he was only the sidekick moment.' Jack frowned in bemusement. 'I got down on the floor to play with the kids and now I can't get back up.'
Jack tried to reign in the smile that was slow in forming. 'Need a hand?'
'Not just yet,' Ianto said, grabbing the TV remote from the cushion on the sofa by his head with some difficulty and turning the TV on. He sat watching the news for a minute, TV remote resting on his bent knee as he thought about going to retrieve some painkillers.
'Lean forward a minute.' Jack was stood beside him now, looking down in worry.
'That'll hurt, so no.'
'Trust me.' Jack had a pleading look on his face.
'I believe the last time you uttered those words landed me in my current predicament, so again I think I'd like to go with no,' Ianto said, shifting slightly so his hand came up to rest against the deformed bump on his shoulder.
'Please.' Jack was crouched down at eye level now, a hand on Ianto's thigh.
Ianto acquiesced after a moment, letting his legs drop down flat on the carpet and leaning forward slightly, trying not to jostle his shoulder. It was throbbing in time with his heart beating.
'Jack, what are you doing?' Ianto was shifted forward by Jack squeezing in between Ianto and the sofa.
'You can lean back now.' Ianto did, leaning back into Jack's warm body before he felt Jack's right arm coming round to hold him closer.
'The heat'll be good for your shoulder,' Jack whispered next to Ianto's ear before kissing him on the neck. Ianto closed his eyes, trying to block out the constant dull ache as he felt Jack's hand sliding over his own, thumb running over the knuckles of his left hand.
'We managed okay today, considering we were one hand down,' Jack mused.
'We did. Amazingly,' Ianto said. He suddenly felt exhausted, like the pain and lack of sleep and the effort of looking after kids all weekend had finally caught up with him. He closed his eyes, facing the general direction of the TV while his head rested on Jack's shoulder.
'You know, I'm sorry.'
'Why? What have you done now?' Ianto asked.
'Uncle Ianto?' Rona asked, limping into the living room.
'You okay, bach?'
Rona nodded bashfully.
'How's your shoulder?' she asked as she came and stood by his sore shoulder.
'Sore,' Ianto admitted. 'How's your knee?'
'Sore,' Rona mimicked.
'Want me to kiss it better?'
Rona shook her head before she was sitting herself down on Ianto's thigh, her feet up on his other one.
'Careful,' Jack warned as Rona put a hand out to steady herself, almost head butting Ianto's damaged shoulder. She shuffled around until she was leaning against Ianto's side, blocking Jack's arm from getting free. Her fingers reached out to touch Ianto's and he wiggled them, scaring Rona slightly.
'How did you hurt your arm, Uncle Ianto?'
'Well, you know how you tried to go out on the ice and you fell over?'
'Yeah, and then I got an owie,' Rona said, poking at her knee with one finger as if to prove her point.
'Yup, well your Uncle Jack took me ice skating on Thursday after work and I fell like you did.'
'The bigger they are the harder they fall,' Jack interrupted. Ianto tried to glare, but it was hard to glare at someone when you had your back to them.
'Trust me, it'll be fun.' Jack was looking at Ianto imploringly, holding out a pair of ice skates towards him, a pout to rival Finn's on his face.
When Ianto was in the middle of Cardiff Winter Wonderland ice rink, clinging onto Jack's arm with a vice-like grip he was cursing his nephew for teaching Jack how to pout.
'This is not fun, Jack.'
'Just put your arms out in front of you instead of clinging onto me. Here.' Jack started skating backwards, holding onto both Ianto's hands, and pulling Ianto along. Show off, Ianto thought.
'You just need to push off, one foot after the other. It's like rollerblading on ice.'
'I've never been rollerblading.'
'Just pretend you're on a scooter then.'
'I've never been on a scooter.'
'You were never a child, were you? You were born in a three piece suit speaking fluently in four languages. I'm sure of it.'
'Two. I learned French and German at school.'
'Just push off with one foot slightly. Glide. That's it. Now with the other.'
Ianto was aware that a group of children much more capable of ice-skating that he was, were watching them with amused expressions. He could hear giggling but was concentrating too much on putting one foot in front of the other while remembering to glide to look up.
'See, there, you've got it.'
Jack did something unspeakable then, something Ianto would never forgive him for. He took off the stabilizers before Ianto had properly learned how to ride the bike. He let go of Ianto's hands and skated backwards a few feet. It all went to shit then. Ianto forgot how to put one foot in front of the other and gliding didn't even come into it as he stuttered over the grooves in the ice before he stumbled and fell, arms wind-milling, but it was too late to save himself.
Jack was laughing, and Ianto would have been laughing too if his shoulder wasn't hurting so much. He tried to brace his arm against the ice to hoist himself back to his feet but there was a sharp pain that caused him to yelp and Jack wasn't laughing anymore.
'You okay?' Jack was bending down, one knee on the ice and a hand on the small of Ianto's back.
Jack was undoing the buttons on Ianto's winter coat now, reaching into the cocoon of warmth Ianto had built up ice skating to undo a couple of shirt buttons as well. Ianto couldn't move to help or stop him as Jack's critical gaze eyed his shoulder.
'Right, come on you, A&E.' And then Jack was pulling him to his feet and leading him off the ice like he was a small child.
'So does that make you a silly sausage too?' Rona asked. Jack laughed as Finn came charging into the room, vaulting over Jack, Ianto and Rona to reach the sofa and immediately frowning when he realised nothing interesting was on the TV.
'Can we watch something else?'
'It's almost bedtime.' Ianto yawned, as if to prove his point.
'It's Christmas,' Jack whispered in Ianto's ear as the kids started to grumble. 'If I drug you up with painkillers you won't care will you?'
'No.' Ianto closed his eyes and leaned his head back on Jack's shoulder. Jack sent Finn into the kitchen to get some water and the packet of painkillers on the kitchen table while Rona wrestled with the well-worn Muppets Christmas Carol DVD.
'Yeah?' Ianto was busy trying to put toothpaste on his toothbrush with one hand. Jack carefully took the toothpaste from him and held Ianto's hand still while he squeezed it onto the toothbrush.
'Thanks,' Ianto said, before shoving the brush in his mouth. He swirled the brush round his mouth a couple of times before taking it out again when he realised Jack was still stood in the bathroom door. 'Did you want something?'
'I, uh, I wanted to say sorry.'
Ianto spat into the sink. 'What for?'
Jack's eyes flicked down to Ianto's shoulder and Ianto stopped brushing his teeth, taking the brush out his mouth with an undignified pop.
'Why-' He stopped, toothpaste dribbling down his chin to spit into the sink again. 'Why do you want to apologise? It wasn't your fault.'
'I was the one who dragged you ice skating, I was the one who let you go, I was the one who let you fall.'
'Jack, I'm not a child. I'm not yours to look after all the time.' Ianto wiped his mouth free of toothpaste with the back of his hand before shuffling forward across the cold tiles of the bathroom floor. 'Maybe you can ask Santa for a first aid kit to fix me.'
Jack smiled slightly and Ianto kissed the upturned corner of his mouth. Jack licked the minty freshness from his lips, making Jack's tongue tingle as Ianto finished brushing his teeth.
'I promise I won't take you ice skating again.'
'No,' Ianto said, dropping the toothbrush in the holder. 'Just promise me you'll be a better teacher.'