Author's Notes: This story hasn't been beta'd, as a warning. It's a fluffy Gwen and Ianto are bff's moment to celebrate the holiday and my own upcoming nuptials. Enjoy.
"So, you're married now."
Gwen Cooper, who had been resting on the tattered Torchwood sofa after a long first day back at work, jumped at the voice that broke the calm silence she'd been wrapped in just a moment before. She glanced up from the mission briefs she had been scanning and spotted Ianto Jones, with his hands in his coat pockets, looking at her with just the slightest of smiles on his face. Gwen's muscles relaxed from her startling, and she grumblingly thought Ianto could startle the dead in the downstairs morgue with his way of slinking about the Hub.
"I am," Gwen answered him. "You were there. Unless you drank from the wrong champagne bottle and don't remember." She put her paperwork back in its manila folder and placed it on the floor, not missing the twitch in Ianto's jaw at her doing so, and then patted the cushion next to her. Ianto lifted his chin in acceptance of her invitation and took the seat next to Gwen. He stretched his long pinstriped clad legs out next to Gwen's on the table and tapped the side of her boot with his own shoe.
"Place was quiet without you," Ianto sighed and Gwen ducked her head to hide how pleased she was with his comment. That was the closest she'd ever get from Ianto to an 'I missed you.' She'd been on honeymoon for the past week and a half, enjoying some sun and beaches and no aliens, and had only exchanged a few hurried text messages from her colleagues. Then, today had been so hectic that she hadn't really had time to acclimate being back yet or really catch up with anyone.
Gwen nudged Ianto with her shoulder. "I could tell. You bought my favorite pastries this morning. You bought enough to feed me all week!"
If there was a slight coloring on Ianto's neck, Gwen ignored it. That's what friends did. "Well, I hadn't seen you in almost two weeks. Didn't know what you'd be in the mood for having."
"Mm," Gwen responded. "Quiet, was it?"
"Oh yeah. Jack sulked around a bit. Tosh and Owen continued their dance of the tragically mismatched. I held everything together with chewing gum and gumption."
Gwen tugged on Ianto's arm until he leaned to the side and grudgingly changed position. He laid his head on her lap and stretched his legs across the sofa, over the opposite arm, and his feet dangled in the air. A warning raise of the eyebrow stopped Gwen before she could card her fingers through Ianto's hair. She loved musing it and messing it about - it had a baby softness to it that always fascinated her - but Ianto wasn't so much a fan of Gwen's quirk. He'd slowly learned to tolerate Gwen's affectionate nature, but he had his limits.
Practicing an enormous amount of self-control, Gwen clenched her hand into a fist and rested it on the back of the couch. "Gumption? Really? You sound like my gran."
Ianto shrugged. "Been reading too many of Jack's old novels. Have to do something when I'm trying to ignore him."
Gwen giggled at the mental image of Ianto sitting about after hours with an old paperback in his hand and Jack pouting over lack of attention. Sometimes Ianto said those sorts of things to feed Gwen's curiosity of them. Most of the time, he fed Gwen's belief that quite a bit Jack and Ianto's dynamic was built around passive aggressive power struggles and near constant flirting. "Yeah, well, I'm staging an intervention the second you start showing up in turn of the century clothes."
"Oh, please do." Ianto stretched his back and folded his hands over his chest. "It really was dull without you around. No one was kidnapped, impregnated or offered to do the morning Sudoku with me."
"The trials you face," Gwen chided. "Besides, even you have to admit I needed the time off after that wedding." Ianto's brow knitted together and a frown fluttered across his lips before he could contain it. Gwen wanted to pet his forehead then, and had to dig fingernails into her palm to stop herself. There was definitely a reaction in Ianto to the word 'wedding.' She'd seen it, even if he had tried to hide it.
"So, about the wedding…" Gwen began.
"You cut in on me and Jack."
Ianto's eyes darted away from Gwen's face. "I did."
"I don't know if I'm offended that you didn't want to dance with me or that you were jealous."
Ianto made a huffed noise in the back of his throat and propped himself up on his elbows, head titled back so he could still look at Gwen. "First off, we – you and I – did end up dancing. I seem to remember twirling you just to watch your dress sparkle."
"You did," Gwen agreed. There'd been a fair amount of champagne consumed at that point. Gwen hadn't had a chance to go through the photos salvaged from cameras at the wedding, but she hoped someone had gotten a shot of that. They'd both been giggling like children, the last buzz of alcohol and excitement working its way through their systems, as they twirled to whatever song had been playing. Gwen remembered seeing Jack then, watching them, and she still wasn't sure which of them he had been watching.
"Second, I wasn't jealous. I was worried for Rhys's sake. Didn't want him to get the wrong idea."
"Uh huh," Gwen agreed again. This time, she ignored Ianto's warning eyebrows and ran her fingernails over his scalp to guide his head back down to her lap. Gwen then scratched behind his ear, like she would a cat, until Ianto relaxed minutely. "You just seemed a little tense about it, that's all. And, you've got nothing to be jealous of, you know that. I'm happy now, really happy, with what I have. I don't want that." Not anymore, Gwen didn't add. She wasn't daft enough to lie to herself, or her friend, about the tumult of emotions Jack Harkness caused in her. It would insult them both to pretend it didn't exist and risk this fragile friendship they'd spent so much time cultivating.
"Doesn't matter," Ianto answered automatically and Gwen bit back a frustrated sigh. When Ianto saw Gwen's concerned expression he rolled his eyes. "It's really not as important as you think it was. Really. I can handle myself, mum." His face didn't entirely convince Gwen that was the case. She didn't know what was going on with Ianto and Jack. Ianto didn't seem like he knew either. Maybe Jack had a plan in mind, or some sort of idea of what he was doing, but he definitely wasn't sharing with either of them. Worse, there was no real way to comfort someone who probably felt Gwen was part of the problem. If he even wanted comfort. Gwen hadn't understood 24 year old boys when had been dating them and that hadn't changed since then.
"Okay," Gwen exhaled. They sat in silence for a few moments, absorbing the sounds of the Hub. Owen was somewhere in the autopsy bay working and filling his endless hours. That hadn't changed in Gwen's absence. Jack was in his office, with Tosh, going over some tech reports. She could hear the water trickling in the center of the Hub, the occasional mumble from Owen, Ianto's soft breathing and the whirring of all of the computers and equipment around them. It was strange how quick these things had become familiar, welcome and missed, to Gwen. "I'm glad to be back," Gwen finally said.
"Really? You've missed the cold, damp, windowless cave Jack keeps us in?"
"Absolutely," Gwen nodded. "Even missed you lurking in the shadows and being snippy." Ianto laughed at that and shook his head as if to say 'oh, you.'
"Christmas is soon," Gwen went on. "And, well, it's when families and friends get together."
"It is traditionally. There's also some merrymaking. Sometimes caroling, but that's a bit dastardly even for my standard."
Gwen tapped Ianto playfully on the forehead. "Christmas wasn't too pleasant around here last year."
"No, no it wasn't," Ianto frowned.
"So I want some good memories this year." They shared a look and a silent 'just in case' was added to the end of Gwen's statement. "What are you doing for Christmas?"
Ianto shifted. "I've got somewhere I've got to be Christmas day. Things, you know. Merrymaking and the lot."
Ianto didn't elaborate further and Gwen didn't push. It hadn't slipped past Gwen that Ianto was slowly conditioning her, training her even, on when to prod and when to just let something lie. Not that she minded. Too much. He liked his secrets and he made sure to share more with Gwen when she didn't meddle as a thank you. Or a treat. Ianto's motivations were always difficult to suss out. "Right, well, Christmas Eve," she suggested.
"I'm free as long as I'm not here. Then, chances are if I'm here, so are you."
A rueful smiled twitched on Gwen's lips. Ianto had a point. "Come over," she pleaded, widening her eyes slightly in an expression that always seemed to tug at Ianto's resolve. "We'll make dinner. You, me, Rhys." Ianto seemed to hesitate. "You can bring Jack, if you can convince him to not spend it brooding." At that, Ianto made a face as if he'd bitten into a lemon.
"Yes, Rhys and Jack on Christmas. That'd be fun."
"We could mock them. Make them wear paper crowns whenever they bicker."
"Spike the eggnog and try to get them to sing."
"Yes! Make Jack tell Rhys sex stories."
Ianto laughed. "I don't think we'd have to make him. They just come out. At the worst times too."
Gwen grinned and tapped Ianto's cheek. "So that's a yes?"
"We'll see - I'll definitely be there. I'll see what I can do about him," Ianto quickly added before disappointment could settle on Gwen's face.
"Fantastic! I'll tell - "
"So," a loud voice boomed above them. "You two planning on working at all today?" They both glanced around until they spied Jack, leaning on the railing of the catwalk above and across from them. He was almost as bad as Ianto with his lurking, so there was no real way of telling how long he'd been spying on them. Jack was trying to glare at them with exaggerated sternness; but even at a distance, Gwen could see the twitching of his lips and a sparkle in his eyes. "Not that a mind if you decide to be purely decorative additions to the Hub. You'd both be good for morale."
"We're getting back to it. Had to take a coffee break," Ianto answered. "Union rules."
"Welsh union. Very strict about this," Gwen added. "Right up there with swearing loudly in pubs and obsessing over sweaty sports."
Jack looked confused and Gwen realized it wasn't her joke, but that he was staring the table and not seeing any coffee. He opened his mouth to say something and Ianto interrupted.
"And plotting against you. Can't forget that. We plan on running this place in a couple more months. Silent coup."
Before Gwen could even think of adding to the banter, a third voice joined in. "You've already achieved your goal," Owen yelled from autopsy. "Congratulations. You've both got Jack wrapped so tightly around your fingers he can't see straight. Now can the rest of us work?"
Gwen snickered at Jack's slightly outraged expression and Ianto tried to cover his mirth with a few poorly placed coughs. When Jack threw his hands in the air and stormed off, even Ianto couldn't hold back anymore. They laughed until they were out of breath and could no longer hear Owen's grumblings. "Right," Ianto wheezed out. "Time to help the minions get back to things."
Nodding in agreement, Gwen helped Ianto back into a sitting position and gathered her work from the floor. Impulsively, she leaned forward and gave him a quick hug. He stiffened in her arms - either from the unexpected extreme personal contact or the fact that she was squashing her files between them - and finally sagged and hugged her back. "Thanks for saying yes to Christmas," Gwen said.
Ianto shrugged. "It's like you said. Christmas is for family."