"Wanna play a game?"
In the beginning, Ianto had been prone to jumping out of his skin when Jack snuck up on him like this. It was a talent, to be sure, that very few people possessed-the ability to silently slip so intimately close to another person without even a breath of sound.
But Jack perfected the skill the way an artisan perfects his craft, and Ianto had become so used to the sudden closeness that Jack could now practically breathe his greeting next to his ear without having to worry about sudden reflexes causing injury.
"What kind of game?" Ianto kept his eyes on the computer screen, his fingers moving deftly over the keyboard. Jack had his skills, Ianto had his. Maintaining semblance of composure was one of them. That didn't mean he wasn't keenly aware of how close the other man was or that his body didn't long to lean into him, but he knew better than to give in to physical urges when they first presented themselves.
Jack's arms wrapped around him and his hands rested over Ianto's, stilling his efforts to continue working. The initial warmth of Jack's skin against his sent a shiver through him, but the younger man simply took a breath and looked down at their entwining fingers.
"I was thinking you seem a little overworked. Tense, even. You could use a break." Jack's lips grazed his ear so faintly that Ianto wondered if he had imagined the touch. His mind was already spinning with possibilities for the aforementioned break-the most immediate of which involved the use of a stopwatch. He covertly bit the inside of his lip to keep from voicing his suggestions.
"And what did you have in mind?" His voice quavered the smallest bit and he mentally kicked himself. The second Jack learned for sure that he could pull Ianto away from any and everything just by triggering the randy sixteen year old inside of him, all bets toward productivity would be off.
Jack's thumb slipped around to Ianto's right wrist, where he gently pressed at the vein he found there. Ianto's pulse would give him away momentarily, but at the moment, he was commending himself for making it this far.
"Hide and seek?"
Ianto was happy that Jack was standing behind him so he wouldn't see the strange look that flashed over his face at the suggestion. It was gone as quickly as it had come and Ianto began to think of potential sexual escapades that could somehow be termed "hide and seek." Even with his self-proclaimed expansive knowledge base of any and all things, Ianto had no ideas.
"As in... the children's game?" He asked a moment later.
"Mostly," Jack replied. He rested his chin on Ianto's shoulder. His hands began to trail up before slipping to his hips and finding their way to the buttons on the black suit jacket Ianto was wearing. He undid them with a flick of his thumb and forefinger, as if unbuttoning his own shirt. "I was thinking we'd do it with less clothes than the kiddies, though."
Ianto blinked at the computer screen. "Isn't it just a mite chilled in here for... less?"
Jack shook his head and ran his hand down Ianto's arm again, gently nudging his hand aside from the keyboard. With a few deft keystrokes, Jack had tapped into the climate control panel of the Hub. At the same time, he brushed his lips along Ianto's neck, just below his hear and barely above the collar, ensuring that his partner would immediately want to shed each and every stitch of clothing on his person.
"You'll warm up fast," Jack whispered.
"And the cameras?"
Again, Jack's fingers played across the keys, typing in codes that Ianto didn't dare peek at. He knew Jack had access to all of the security protocols, but it was usually up to Tosh to mess around with them. She probably had two-button a keyboard command that would send the Hub into lock down. However, it was generally only Jack and Ianto who had any reason to turn off the internal cameras.
Ianto had a feeling that if he didn't mention their unmanned camera crew, Jack would be fine with everything being recorded for any unsuspecting victim to stumble upon. In fact, Ianto wouldn't have put it past Jack to go back and play the videos for himself.
That is, if Ianto didn't make sure they were off before beginning any of that sort of business.
"Do you want to hide or seek?" Ianto asked as Jack began to pull him away from the computer.
"I'm in a seeking mood."
"Are there any rules to this?" Ianto watched as Jack removed his braces, slipping the straps from his shoulders and letting them fall to his sides before beginning on his belt buckle.
"I think it goes without saying that skin isn't optional."
Ianto was mildly disappointed that Jack was just dropping all his clothes right to the floor without any fanfare. He still got to watch, but in the past, at least one-sixth of the fun had always been the removal of each other's clothes; the popped buttons, the "accidentally" ripped shirtsleeves, the trail that led to Jack's office.
"Surely there must be... something else to this," Ianto asked, following Jack's lead and slipping his suit coat from his shoulders before loosening his tie. He was careful to fold his clothes and set them on the work station behind him. Clean-folded clothes were certainly more preferable to the pile that Jack was creating, and when he wasn't hot and bothered, it made more sense to Ianto to make sure everything was neat.
Jack kicked his pants behind him and dropped his shirt to the floor. "You hide. I'll come find you. Pretty simple." He shrugged. One hand was behind his back and Ianto knew that there was about to be a twist in the game play that would make it more enticing.
"And when you find me?" Ianto swallowed.
"How long do you think it'll take?" Jack asked, bringing Ianto's stopwatch into view. "Five minutes? Ten?"
"To find me? Not much time at all. You know the Hub backwards and blindfolded."
"Now there's an idea for next time." Jack smirked and took a step forward until he was nearly pressed against Ianto, standing stark naked as if he didn't have a care in the world. "But how about for now, if I find you, I get to choose what happens next, and if I don't," he paused, letting the chain on the stopwatch unravel from his fingertips until it was hanging from his fingers like a pendulum. "If I don't find you, then you get to choose."
Ianto swallowed. "Sounds fair." It really wasn't. There wasn't anywhere to hide in the Hub, and even if there was, Jack truly did know every crevice of the place by heart. He'd had a lot of time to find every nook, after all.
This made Ianto sure that Jack was up to something, but he wasn't going to inquire.
"I'm going to count to a hundred. See you in ten minutes or less," Jack said with a mischievous grin. Then he closed his eyes, appearing as if he had gone into some deep trance. Ianto watched him for a moment before hurrying away toward a hiding place-any place in the Hub that would conceal him for ten minutes.
He knew Jack was competitive; knew he'd cheat.
But where did one hide in a place like the Hub? Closets were out. Work stations were out. If he could fit himself into Jack's safe, that definitely would've been the best option, because Jack didn't know Ianto could get into that. Then again, Ianto certainly didn't want Jack to know, so that was out, size or no. There was the morgue, but considering exactly where the end of the game had the potential to head, he wasn't fond of that idea, either.
Ianto stood on the steps and looked around. There was nowhere.
"Twenty-five," Jack called.
Get your naked arse in the game, Jones, he thought.
He stared at the center of the Hub, just below the rift manipulator, and a plan began to form.
Jack will probably head right for the obvious places first, he noted. He'll go to the cupboards, my coffee station, the work stations... But if I can figure out which direction he's going, I can switch from cubby to cubby without being seen.
This was easier said than done, of course. Ianto had never been one for sleuth-like stealth, and it was a huge risk to hide so out in the open.
Ianto bit his lip and moved toward one of the openings under the rift manipulator. He didn't really have time to come up with a better hiding spot, and Jack had never explicitly stated any rules after the whole nakedness bit. It wasn't technically cheating if he was planning on hiding in the manipulator the entire time.
The biggest problem with this plan was that the base of the rift manipulator was made of stone. Cold, cold stone that seemed to adhere to his arse the second he touched down. He made a strangled face and fought down the surprised gasp that threatened to escape. If he made a sound, his place would be given away and he'd only have seconds to find a new spot... and once Jack knew of Ianto's "out in the open" strategy, all bets were off.
Of course, there was really no loser in this game. No matter what, they'd have their way with each other. That was a fine deal in Ianto's eyes. But he played to win.
He wasn't sure if his body had adjusted to the cold slab of stone that seemed to be molding itself to his skin or if his bollocks and arse had simply fled to warmer climates. Either way, he was starting to feel better about his hiding place by the time Jack called out, "Ninety eight, ninety-nine, one hundred. Ready or not, Ianto Jones. Ready or not."
Ianto would have sworn he heard Jack click the button on the stopwatch and the resounding echo of each tick, tick, tick that seemed to add a slow motion effect to Jack's following footsteps, but that would've been impossible.
Jack stopped after a few steps and Ianto closed his eyes, immediately regretting his open-air hiding place. Not only would Jack find him in two seconds' time, but he was also situated almost directly in front of the door to the Hub, so if anyone were to pop in (as Gwen frequently did, though she never knew what she was interrupting), they'd certainly get an eye full.
Why isn't he moving? Ianto wondered nervously. And then he remembered all the times Jack had crept up on him, the very way he had when he had proposed this little game, and he realized that he was in too deep. Maybe if he kept his eyes closed, he would remain invisible; stay in the dark.
They had to be at least one minute into the game. Had Jack gone off toward his office as the first place of interest? Surely the stairs would've given that location away. And what about closets and closed doors? Those, too, should have informed Ianto of where Jack was looking for him.
But nothing. Not a sound.
Except the subconscious sound of the stopwatch. Tick, tick. Tick.
This game had been perfectly crafted by Jack to ensure a swift victory.
Yet minutes went by with no sounds except the occasional beeping and whirring of the Hub itself. Nothing from Jack, which made Ianto curious enough to want to stand up and look around, but there were two things keeping him cemented in place. The first was that if he got up, it was possible that Jack would see him immediately if he was standing in the same place as he was when Ianto went to hide. The second happened to literally be the concrete: If he got up now, he'd have to sit back down and freeze his arse off all over again.
So he waited, imagining the tick, tick, tick in his head as if the stopwatch was right next to his ear. On more than one occasion, the naked Welshman turned his head suddenly, half expecting to find Jack standing next to him dangling the watch next to his ear and grinning in victory.
But he was never there.
"You know, Ianto, I think I'm bored of this game," Jack said after what had to have been six or seven hours of waiting. The strange thing was that it sounded like he was in the same place as before. He hadn't moved. Why hadn't he moved?
But Ianto wouldn't get up just yet. He wasn't going to give himself away.
"It's not like I couldn't find you if I wanted to. I'm sure you're still in the room because I didn't hear any latches opening," Jack explained. Ianto heard the distinct sound of a workstation chair being pulled out. "So how do we make it fair? Because the way we're playing now is far too easy."
"We're about five minutes into our game."
That was unbelievable. Only five minutes? Ianto was sure he had been pressed against the stone for days in anticipation and wait.
"So what do you say to changing the rules a little? Instead of me seeking you, let's see if I can make you reveal yourself in the next five minutes." Ianto could hear the playful smile on Jack's lips. The curve in his voice told Ianto that things were about to get dirty.
"What would it take for you to come out, Ianto?"
Winning, Ianto thought. I'll come out when I win.
"Well, sit back, then. Or lean. Or whatever you're doing in that tiny space you must've crammed yourself into." The chair whined slightly and Ianto strained his ears to figure out if Jack had stood to come find him or if the other man was just getting more comfortable. "I'm going to tell you a story."
He was still sitting.
"Do you remember bringing coffee into the meeting this afternoon, Ianto?" Jack asked.
You won't get me with talk of coffee, Harkness, Ianto thought.
"I didn't think you'd be that easy." The smile was clear in Jack's tonality. "But think back to the meeting. Tosh making googly eyes at Owen and Owen being oblivious. Gwen fussing with her notepad like a true policewoman. And you, Ianto, with your five mugs on that ridiculous little tray. You came to me last. Do you know what you did?"
Ianto closed his eyes and tried to remember placing the coffee cups down in front of his coworkers. None of them stood out-not even Jack.
"You leaned over to put the cup down in front of me. And at the same time, you swallowed. Just the smallest little bob of your Adam's apple. Then you sat across the table from me and acted like everything was perfectly normal." Jack paused. "But of course it wasn't. Because all I could do for the rest of the meeting was watch your throat, Ianto Jones. Every time you took a sip of your coffee, every time you cleared your throat, every time you spoke. All I wanted to do was dive across that table and graze my teeth right over that sweet spot until you were begging for mercy."
These words felt too private for the Hub to hear. Ianto's pulse spiked and his breath hitched as Jack's confession reverberated through the Hub, nearly making Ianto jump out from behind the rift manipulator and beg Jack to quiet down, just in case. But they were alone, and Ianto knew it, so there was no way he'd give himself away. His self-control was coming in handy. If Ianto had to guess, he'd say it was about to be tested further.
And it was.
"And then you were collecting those very coffee cups, Ianto. Everyone else was leaving and I don't even think you noticed me standing in the doorway."
He had, but Ianto wasn't about to say so.
"It was almost like you were putting on a show. The way you leaned over the table. You went right back to that insufferable coffee maker to start the whole process over again. I watched you, you know. From my office. And all I could think about was how I wanted to sneak up behind you and unwind that tension. But I wouldn't want you to see me coming, oh no."
All Ianto wanted was to look at Jack in that moment. He could picture him behind closed eyes, could feel the burn in his own cheeks as he fought back the bashfullness that came with his current exposed and aroused state. But the image of Jack that was burned onto his eyelids was that of a man who was confident in his tactics and turned on past the point of going back.
For Ianto, the stakes were high: Win or be won.
But he wasn't sure which he wanted. The one thing he was sure about was Jack.
"I had to stay behind that desk for the rest of the night, Ianto. I had to wait for everyone to go home. Every time I looked out at you, I saw you naked and breathless, bent over that coffee machine and positively begging. I kept thinking about how you'd protest-how you'd say the damn coffee machine is sacred and how we could go to the office. But I couldn't accept that. You torture me with that coffee. The way you lick your lips after you taste test a cup and you know you've mastered the flavor of the week. I can't help but think you know how you're teasing me, and that's not how we play this game, Ianto. That's not how we play at all."
Ianto licked his lips. No coffee. And from the way he was biting down on his bottom lip to keep from making a sound, he was impressed that there wasn't blood, either. The scene Jack was illustrating was pure scandal to Ianto-but it was intriguing enough to be tempting his hand, even when he knew that the second he touched himself, the game would be over and Jack would win.
So his self-control had to keep winning, no matter how hard the game got.
Jack stopped speaking, but Ianto could hear the man's measured breathing from twenty-five feet away almost the same way as he could when Jack was gasping in his ear. Jack was letting his imagination run free-the one thing Ianto was afraid to do.
If he did, he'd lose.
Ianto couldn't help the urge to accuse Jack of cheating. This was all too unfair.
Jack breathed deep, inhaling long and full, and the sound was enough to give Ianto the firm visual of Jack leaning back in that blasted chair, his chest rising as he ran his hands from torso to thighs, eliciting a soft hum. They'd watched each other before, but never like this. Never so wide open for anyone else to see, and never without watching. It was a pure test of imagination. Ianto was finding his mind to be much more receptive than he would have guessed.
Even as he was imagining every inch of Jack's body splayed out in front of him, even as he could feel Jack's skin moving beneath his fingertips, he could almost register his own hands as Jack's moving over him. His nails were digging into the sides of his thighs in effort to keep from further exploration, but his mind was taking over, creating a phantom Jack who was gripping him from behind.
The fantasy playing in the dark of his eyes was identical to Jack's-one in which the coffee maker rocked back and forth on its tabletop while Ianto simultaneously tried to steady it and completely get lost in every sensation Jack had to offer.
At the moment, the only sensation that could outdo that fantasy would be beating his lover at his own game. Any minute now the game would end and the real fun could begin. But first, Ianto had to endure the subtle moans coming from Jack's general direction. He had to pretend that every sound didn't send a pleasant pulse straight to the center of his body.
That was the hardest part.
"You're thinking about it," Jack said, his voice less controlled than it had been moments before. "Thinking about gripping the sides of the counter when I sink my teeth into your shoulder. You're thinking about how hard you want it-and how you don't care about being able to sit tomorrow. You just want to let it all go."
Ianto hadn't been thinking about any of those things, but rather like being told not to think about a pink elephant, his brain was now running strictly on those very images. He was going to lose.
Then again, if this was what Jack had in store for him, he was certainly okay with writing it off as win-win.
"God, Ianto, I don't think I've ever been able to keep my hands off you this long," Jack said. There was something in the way he said his name that always made Ianto feel like he was the only person alive who could make Jack's voice wrap around a word so perfectly. "It wouldn't take long to find you, but I can picture you, sitting with your hands balled up, trying to keep under control. Is it working? Or have you started to let them wander? Are you touching yourself while I talk to you, Ianto?"
So close, Ianto thought. Don't give in now. Don't you dare.
"Because I am."
As if I couldn't tell. Ianto nearly groaned, but he settled for silently pressing his fist to his lips.
Jack settled into a quiet sort of rhythmic humming again and Ianto's hands crept to the wall to brace him so he could stand. He wanted to watch Jack, to see what he was missing and watch those hands moving over skin that his mouth could be tracing. He had nearly pushed himself up from his hiding place when he realized what he was doing and immediately crouched back down.
It was pure torture to lean there against the cold stone, especially when Jack unashamedly whispered Ianto's name across the Hub in the most wanton way; the way he usually reserved entirely for that moment right before he reached climax.
Don't you dare, Ianto thought, sternly narrowing his eyes at no one.
"What was that?" The victorious smirk was plain as day.
That, of course, was Ianto Jones losing the game.