Spoilers:TW sort of season 2 ish
Disclaimer:Not my characters, owned by the BBC
Summary:Andy and Ianto are almost together, but Jack must learn to holster his weapon.
It was just awkward, to see each other in public and not being able to talk openly. The usual cafe was open, and both were waiting for a call back to work.
"Er,yep, that'll do grand."
"Sandwich or cake?"
"What cake is it?"
Andy went up to the counter and swept his hand into his trouser pocket for coins.With a few words to the man behind the counter teas and half a dozen cakes were carried to the table and Andy swung his leg over the back of the chair to sit down. The 50s Formica printed table top had been stylised floral green but had been cleaned to an obliterated parody of an irregular pattern of dots.
The cafe was in the tender care of the original owner who also hadn't quite worn out yet either. Surprisingly large photos of the Mediterranean graced the walls of the seating area, and small souvenirs were on a shelf above the till. Only locals or lost tourists went there, certainly not trendy people researching shabby chic in loud voices with ring tones and bleeping PDAs, and so it was often a favoured place for Torchwood and police alike for that reason. The decor was beyond worn out and the chairs bolted to the floor but the tea was beyond magic every time.
Ianto briefly looked up and nodded his thanks, taking a plate and the nearest cake from the stacked up pile, and pulling a cup and saucer towards him across the table.
"There's this sort if you want it?"
Their hands reached for the same cake at the exact moment and stayed there.Andy raised one eyebrow and held on to the cake.Ianto raised both eyebrows,and under the table moved both legs forward and trapped one of Andy's long legs.
Andy sat back in the cafe chair, tilting it slightly back.
"That type of cake has always been popular. Very nice with the icing on top an' all."
"Classy snack for the Monday afternoon of the working man." The fingers flexed and moved near the wrist of the other man, taking a measure of control in the situation. They both locked eyes, and then squared up tighter than that somehow.
"Toss you for it.."
Ianto judged what the offer might possibly be, and looked slightly sideways at Andy in his summer issue white shirt, the short sleeve type,clip-on tie and full police black uniform epaulettes showing his numbers in chrome. The hat, placed way at the side next to the beautyboard wall of the cafe was the only item that he could sometimes afford to remove in the heat, all the rest of the hardware was clipped to the uniform belt in regulation order.
With the heatwave outside in the town centre Andy's blond hair was stuck to his head in places where it wasn't curled, and the stab-resist vest fitted closely to the body. His uniform trousers showed off his tallness without advertising his muscularity and were creased properly like the fine cotton shirtsleeves stopping above his elbows.
Andy's fingers were steepled above the cake to protect it, but completely enclosed it to stop any flicking or shoving tactics. He narrowed his eyes at Ianto, and became slightly more than halfway sombre.
"I never lost a dessert any school lunchtime, nor at family tea neither."
Ianto drew in a breath as a hiss, returning the challenge with a set jaw and a matching look under his lashes guaranteed to put weevils to the back of a cell in a whimpering heap. Andy smiled, plainly and almost cheerfully transforming into the older nicer looking brother who would never fail to nick your last fiver or take your girlfriend out behind your back that you still somehow desperately had to forgive. Ubercharm assault:Ianto had to think quickly.
"Soft icing with that sponge underneath, very...bitable, don't you think?"
Their silence lengthened, broken only by the sudden sound of breaking crockery as the owner dropped a stack of thick china double-size mugs, shattering them on the solid floor. Punctuated by curses and words in something neither Welsh nor English, George scraped and swept the shards loudly together behind the counter.
"Yep, toss you for it."
"As in, well, you know.." Andy suddenly felt all joints and awkwardness, and started to wonder if he'd not only overstepped that invisible line that Ianto wanted, but if he'd be laughed at in public.
"...Toss?" Ianto queried partly amused but with an edge that put the confidence partly back into Andy's mind.
Andy stood up with a repeat reverse swing of his leg over the back of the chair, Ianto choosing the sideways slide instead. No-one else was in the cafe or even at the sun beaten pavement table outside the windows.
Two large steps to the right and Andy opened the door at the side of the cafe and Ianto followed him through. They were not in the side alley as they expected, but a pantry area. They looked around, checking for a private secret place united in naughty thoughts.
Darkness met them, with shelves at every level and a sudden opening with a ruffling noise of what seemed to be a hundred eyes at every flat surface like some science lesson for public health inspectors. Tiny paws moved, clicking on the tins and boxes on which they all stood.
"Yikes, what are they, rats?" Ianto replied by backing towards the doorway back to the cafe as he reached with his right hand to his waistband holster. Andy motioned him still with one hand, pointing to a shelf lit by the spill of light from where they had just come with the other.
"Nope, some sort of, well, It looks like..."Andy stretched to touch an animal, and a myriad of tiny noses pointed towards his outstretched fingers from the shelf, tiny eyes nearby and making a small, familiar sound from the toothy gaps underneath... There was what looked liked fur on each animal, and two eyes facing forwards were bright and open with shining curiosity.
Ianto looked at Andy, incredulous.
"In a cafe? Do you think that the owner--" he swallowed; thinking the unthinkable was part of the Torchwood daily agenda, but the unpalatable truth was rather looking too cute for comfort. They were in the food storage area of the cafe after all. Ianto tried to remember what he had ever eaten at the cafe in all the years he'd been going there, not only since coming to work at the city centre but when visiting the shops on days out as a child. Desperately and quickly tried to recall exactly, all thoughts of anything else far out of his mind. His face reflected his thoughts and revulsion as he thumbed the safety on his firearm back to the on position.
Without pause, Andy turned past Ianto back into the cafe area in front of the table they had just been seated at. Placing both his hands on the counter he leaned forward to the proprietor's side, looking the shamefaced man in the eye with an unarguable set of authority about him.
The man was backed to the rear of the cooking area, and could not raise his eyes past the spotlessly kept floor he was quivering on.
"George, are you running a kitten farm to supply the cafe with meat not fit for human consumption?" The proprietor frowned at the legal turn of phrase. and Andy sighed and remembered the broken English that George usually replied in.
"Have we been eating the kittens?"
George stood to attention and indignantly said,"Never, I not never once." His face was a mixture of anger and pride, then suddenly changed to secrecy and nervousness.
"Are you protecting someone who is? " said Andy, not letting up on the authoritative advantage he had. George shook his head to mean no, and then surprising softly said "No, they are my children"
Andy stood tall, and got out his notebook and pen from a pouch at his belt. At this official turn of events George actually broke into sobs, placing his hands over his face, loudly attempting to speak and explain in at least two languages at once. Ianto emerged from the cupboard completely, carrying an armful of the delightful kittens with him.
"We can see that you're taking good care of them, you just can't have that many pets in a food area at all, that's what I mean." Andy's tone was authoritative but with an edge of understanding that placed his statements into unanswerable rightness. George wiped his wet eyes with his fingers.
"They are my children, I is the mother, you, hey you," he gestured to Ianto who looked at him levelly, "I is major genetic donor and they is my childs." Ianto's mouth fell open, and looked at Andy. Andy was framing his words carefully on so many fronts at once, but just got to the nub of it all in one question.
"Davith Davithiopoudavilous known as George--" he returned Ianto's frown with a small shrug, "where exactly are you from, originally?" Waving his hand at the souvenirs of the small Mediterranean islands scattered liberally everywhere in the cafe to emphasise his words, Andy raised his eyebrows whist piercing Georges gaze with an exactitude that let him know that "Crete" wasn't going to cut it this time.
Ianto stood up, silently backing Andy and waiting for the answer with a face cut from stone.
"Zeta Sculptoris Cluster, far away, yes. No-one ever hear it right and with accent they say Greece and I never say it not truthful, I not want broken windows and hurt. Is a good cafe here, I like here, I work hard, I stay." George shrugged, encompassing the hopelessly insular human tradition in a single gesture. Ianto placed the kittens into George's arms carefully, then got out his PDA linked to the Hub database and started to interrogate it rapidly.
Andy crossed his arms and leaned on the counter, straightening his back legs inadvertently giving Ianto a pictorial experience worthy of the Ancient Statues hall of the British Museum. Ianto waited longer than he needed for his information to come up on his PDA page, figuring his private view of the young officer was worth it.
"All--" sweeping gesture, " of these are yours?" said Andy.
"Thirty eight of them, yes, all is mine." George perked up at this and became a little more like his usual self, and the kittens slowly tumbled out of the cupboard towards Andy and Ianto sensing a lifting of the usual mood and noticing the open door.
Two ventured to climb up Andy's uniform trouser leg, and a few more pawed at Ianto from the tabletop near to where he was standing. Three working together opened up the milk fridge, and George had to start concentrating on something other than the police officer in front of him.
"Your staff don't know, I take it? Actually, I've only ever seen you yourself behind the counter, no-one else. That's to keep everything secret?"
George crumpled visibly again, two kitty children licking his chin in distress.
"I so busy, never a minute to sit, the cafe is good, but the children, is always something to do and never finish for them..."Andy straightened and stood at the counter, his posture indicating he was still in charge of the rapidly strange situation at hand.
"Is there a..." he searched for a word, and looked at Ianto for help. Ianto changed his gaze to Andy's face then the PDA page in front of him, reddening a little.
"The word would be father, male human only being a suitable partner."
At this George burst into tears and sat on the stool behind the counter sobbing openly and loudly with fervour. Andy looked at Ianto.
"I take that as a no, then?" he said sourly to no-one in particular as George rocked back and forth on the stool. This was all too familiar ground, and Ianto's face reflected a tinge of that cynicism as well. Ianto started to research the viability of the human DNA being testable on a new page, and looked up some other information as well.
Into this scene burst Jack, throwing back the shop door to rock on its hinges , doing a ninja roll along the aisle of the cafe to land in front of the counter in perfect aggressive stance, Webley drawn and unseasonably long coat swinging with the motion of his entrance, pointing the gun at the kittens on the floor who ignored his rapid approach and started to climb up his greatcoat and kill his bootlaces.
"Torchwood, everyone stand still," shouted Jack before he noticed any of this. Andy looked at him briefly, then looked away to the floor, shaking his head. Ianto rolled his eyes then looked back at the new screen on the PDA. George sobbed louder, if that were possible.
"Ianto, researching aliens, how is that not a threat?" said Jack in a confidential tone, wavering a little in his stance.
"When I don't phone for help, perhaps, having IMed you that I'm eating lunch? And telling you I'm at Georges where the whole of Andy's C shift was eating?" Ianto was irked.
Jack holstered his weapon, noting the lack of civilians and falling into charm mode to hide his mistake that was quite plainly unhidable. As Jack started to smile, George pointed an accusatory finger and walked towards him.
"You never call, you see only twice, you terrible spaceman, summer of love my---" George shouted at Jack, then sobbed again as Andy correctly interposed himself between the two. Jack frowned, and somehow looked blank at the same time, at which Ianto looked thunderous.
"1967? That summer, I really don't think that..." Jack murmured quietly.
"George may also have appeared as a female having shape shifting abilities until pregnant." Ianto read aloud, then looking at Jack square in the eye, his head a little to one side. Jack gaped at this, unexpectedly floored into silence.
"These abilities returning after birth to ensure survival of the litter whose appearance as kittens on Earth is a survival mechanism until approx 20lbs in weight when they lose their hair and appear as human toddlers." Ianto read aloud again, then raised an eyebrow at Jack, who turned to George somewhat ashen faced.
"That girl who works here Thursdays, that's, I mean, is it...would you?"
"Is a hobby to be a woman for a day. Is nice change for me. I talk to the mums and children more, have more friends, deliveryman do heavy lifting for me no charge..." George shrugged again, plainly expecting the three men to understand his point of view on being both a man and a woman at the same time.
"Thursdays..." said Andy, looking at his notebook in his hand as he put it away, clicking his biro with finality.
"Thursdays, that rings a bell certainly," said Ianto as he send the instruction to print from his PDA to the Hub printer so that he could follow up with a few things later another day.
Jack looked eye to eye with the kitten smiling at him on his lapel with very white teeth, the word litter plainly echoing unpleasantly until the penny dropped.
"And... There it is," said Andy, picking up his unform hat and wearing it as he was walking past the others to the door now cracked and damaged in its frame thanks to Jack's over-enthusiasm a few minutes earlier. Ianto nodded as he left, silently agreeing with what Andy hadn't said out loud.
Just outside on the pavement Andy noticed a few stray of George's litter starting to wander towards the kerbside and deftly scooped them up into the crook of his arm.
"No leaving Mam, now," he rebuked them, at which one hid her eyes behind her paws and another poked out his rough kitten tongue towards him. Clearly their language abilities were developing well, and Andy rested on the edge of the smokers' table by the cafe window, looking at the sky and counting how many levels down from top he now actually felt he was and could a D/s heirarchy include kittens...
A hatchet-faced woman in a dark suit grabbed him by the elbow startling him back into work mode.
"I'm PR for the constabulary, got a visiting Japanese investment delegation and we're in dire need of a photo op. You've. Got. Kittens. I order you to help me out NOW", she hissed sharply into his face, then stood and spoke in gilded, rounded tones to the business men arriving as a group behind her on the pavement having crossed the road, introducing the area pleasantly and emphasising how caring the Force was at local levels.
The Japanese took pictures of Andy with neat and sleek equipment, and then the PR photo guy crunched them all together in front of the cafe frontage turning the menu board to face the picture for local atmosphere. Andy sighed inwardly, holding the alien kittens who thankfully played their feline roles to the hilt, earning approving cooes and aahs and tickles from the businessmen.
Ianto exited the cafe, and stood behind the photographer, biting his lip slightly at what he could see and how Andy probably felt. As the photographer placed the group, Ianto used his PDA to take a picture of the scene, catching Andy's eye and causing Andy finally to smile only slightly ironically, his hair ruffling in the breeze
The photographer shouted his approval at the blond in uniform surrounded by grey suits in the sunshine with the bankable fluffy kittens sitting in his uniform hat, and that was the shot that got Andy onto page one of the Police Gazette.