Title: A Lantern in the Dark Autumn
Author: nancybrown
Characters/Pairing: Jack/Ianto (Gwen and Martha mentioned)
Rating: PG
Warnings: fluffy mpreg *facepalm*
Beta: fide_et_spe turned this around in record time and I thank her
Words: 1100
Summary: "You'll go as a priest, I'll go as a pregnant nun."
A/N: I blame sariagray.


Ianto took the wrong turn every night when he drove home. The house - blue with white trim - was in a nice area, had a hedge and a short but hidden drive, and offered the privacy Ianto's old flat never had. Nevertheless, when it was his turn to drive, he always made the right turn instead of the left past James Street, and every time, he swore as he had to turn around. Jack never made the wrong turn, although Jack rarely worried about the traffic laws and would make a left turn from the right lane if it suited him.

Wrong turn and all, the Rift had been quiet, allowing Ianto to arrive home while it was not quite dark out yet. Jack had left at noon, ushered home by Martha. "Enjoy the rest while you can," she said, glancing behind her as she did so, as if worried she'd jinx the calm spell by speaking.

Ianto, much more cynical, was certain the calm spell would continue for another month. The Rift wouldn't explode now. It would save up the dirtiest, smelliest, most malevolent alien lifeform it could muster, and deliver it on their doorstep right when ... Well, "deliver" was the operative word, wasn't it?

He pulled the car into the drive, past the high hedge. The leaves were turning colours and when they fell, the privacy wouldn't be quite so private. Then again, in another month, they would need less privacy.

As he opened the door, Jack said, "If you say 'Honey, I'm home,' I'm gonna deck you."

Ianto stepped inside, closed the door, and began removing his shoes. "I suppose asking for my slippers and the newspaper are right out the window, then, and as for wondering why my dinner isn't on the table yet ... "

He was rewarded with a growl. Jack waited in the sitting room, resting on the settee with his feet up. He'd changed from his work clothes to an overlarge t-shirt and stretchy trousers, and because this was Jack, he still managed to look like a film star. Ianto smelled something simmering in the kitchen but took a seat beside Jack instead of investigating further. "Can I ask how you're feeling?"

"Better. My back still hurts." Jack had become close friends with the electric heating pad.

"Backrub?"

"No, thanks." Jack shifted uncomfortably. Massages were one of their favourite shared activities, but currently, Jack was hypersensitive and responded inconsistently to touches, no matter how careful.

"All right. Is supper ready? I could dish it up."

"Another ten minutes. How was your meeting with Swanson?"

"She's come up with new nicknames for you. I've told her you'll be available on the phone tomorrow. We still have to go over the plans for Bonfire Night." The Rift might be inactive, but the increased human activity between Halloween and Guy Fawkes always led to more restlessness in the Weevil population. Torchwood had begun to arm the police with anti-Weevil spray, under Gwen's close training.

One more month. Jack said it would be about right, and Martha agreed. The first five months - well, the three months after Jack realised what had happened - Jack had merely dressed in larger clothes and did his best to pass his changing physique off as weight gain. Month six had been fine up until Jack led the team in broad daylight to a scene caused by some idiot using alien tech to change the outcomes of matches through his television, and Jack had taken a hard blow to the chest that could have killed him.

"What happens if you die?" Ianto had asked him, later, after Martha ran all her tests. Jack didn't know, couldn't answer, and had stayed on desk duty since. He travelled between the Hub and their home, stayed out of sight otherwise, and counted down the days.

"I thought we could go out tonight," Jack said, moving off the settee slowly. "Plenty of people out in costume." He held out his hand for Ianto, who followed him into the kitchen. One large pot bubbled quietly on the hob. The familiar smell of bread came from the oven. Jack pulled out a nice brown, round loaf. He'd been craving carbohydrates: bread, noodles, potatoes. Ianto had to be careful with his own portions whenever Jack cooked, or he'd be needing the paternity clothes, too.

"Do we have costumes?"

"Sure. You'll go as a priest, I'll go as a pregnant nun." Jack's grin lit up the room, and Ianto found himself considering the prospect of that seductive smile in a nun's habit.

"Just because you're immortal does not mean some of us aren't still worried about going to Hell."

"I can think of far more fun things to do to ensure you wind up eternally damned." Jack began slicing the bread as Ianto readied their plates and bowls.

"We couldgo out," Ianto said, turning the idea over in his head. "There's the Festival." Halloween was the perfect night of the year not to explain Jack's condition. And in another month, he'd no longer have to hide. They'd be just another couple with a baby, Torchwood-provided papers in place to cover the "surrogacy." Gwen was already going overboard with baby clothes, and even Jack's daughter was wryly amused with the situation and had given them her old pram.

Ianto's personal panic had stopped around month seven. He suspected it would come roaring back any day.

Jack dished out the stew, savoury with more potatoes than any non-fried foodstuff should contain, but Ianto was not going to complain.

"Let's stay in," Jack said through his second bite of bread, though going out had been his idea. "I have a surprise for you."

Ianto tensed; that was precisely the wording Jack had used right after he'd gone to see Martha about why he'd been feeling so exhausted. Jack knew this, and enjoyed using the same phrasing whenever possible. "Yes?"

Jack moved his chair out from the table, then flipped up the t-shirt.

Ianto had been a reluctant convert to body paints: the flavours weren't as intense as he expected, they left a mess on the sheets, and honestly, neither of them would be remembered for their artistic talents. Never mind that Jack had to limit himself to painting the less hairy parts of Ianto's body when it was his turn, though he enjoyed tickling everywhere with the brushes until Ianto's toes curled.

Jack's physiology meant far more of a canvas to enjoy, and they had plenty of orange. Also enough black for the eyes, nose, and mouth. He'd clearly been bored this afternoon.

"You're a prat," Ianto said, staring.

"No, I'm a Jack-O'-Lantern," Jack said proudly.

"Utter, utter prat."

But he got the camera, and it was one more snap for the baby book, and the orange was never, ever going to come out of the sheets.


The End