Gwen had almost been shocked into silence, which was surprising in itself. She sat back at her desk, thoughtfully chewing on the end of her pencil, mentally replaying the conversation. She had just been trying to put Beth at ease, knowing that she would have noticed Jack's incorrigible flirting by now. It hadn't worked out quite as well as Gwen had hoped. She had managed to get herself all flustered (and really, why wasn't she over all that by now?) and had only been rescued by Ianto in possibly the most bizarre fashion possible.
If she hadn't heard it with her own ears, Gwen knew that she wouldn't have believed it. Okay, Ianto had been in a bit of a strange mood all day, but she had the uneasy feeling that he hadn't been joking.
And if he hadn't been joking, then that could only mean one thing...
Months ago, before Jack had left, back when she and Owen were …- well, that didn’t matter now - Owen had been convinced that Jack and Ianto were having sex. He’d even taunted Ianto about it, when they were fighting over opening the rift and Ianto had shot him. Gwen had discounted the whole thing – Owen thought about sex a lot, and Gwen just couldn’t believe that Jack would be carrying on with Ianto right under their noses. Whilst she was fully aware of Jack's flirtatious tendencies, she’d always thought that flirtation was as far as it went, with colleagues at least. After all, he flirted with her all the time and he’d never tried to take it any further. And surely Ianto had still been grieving over his cyberised girlfriend…
It appeared that she’d been wrong, however. First Tosh had told her that Ianto had let slip that Jack had asked him on a date, during that business with Captain John, and now Ianto himself had as good as said that he had intimate knowledge of Jack’s bedroom habits.
The Policewoman in Gwen had always been suspicious of Jack. Despite getting to know him personally, and finding out some of his secrets, there was still far too much that he hadn't told them. She wondered if Ianto was making a big mistake. What would happen if Jack left again?
She looked around the hub. Jack was up in his office, holding a small metallic object up to the light. She could hear Owen crashing around in the autopsy bay, humming to himself. Ianto was nowhere to be seen.
She looked over at Tosh, who was completing a Sudoku puzzle with one hand while occasionally tapping away at her keyboard with the other. She didn't look too busy. Gwen decided it was time for a girlie chat about their co-worker's relationship.
She picked up a few pieces of random paperwork, and with a final guilty look up to Jack's office, sidled over to Tosh's desk.
“What are you two up to then?” Owen found himself drawn to the air of subterfuge and gossip radiating from Tosh’s desk.
The girls exchanged guilty glances.
“Oh come on! You’re talking about somebody in here, or there would be no need for the secrecy. I haven’t done anything interesting recently, so I’m guessing it’s about one of those two and I want in on the gossip.”
“I never realized you were such a girl, Owen!” Tosh pretended to look surprised.
“It’s not like I have much choice here, is it? It’s gossip or sink. So, come on, spill.”
Gwen looked over her shoulder yet again to check that neither Jack nor Ianto was in earshot.
“It’s something Ianto said...”
As Gwen started to explain, the range of emotions on Owen's face went through several stages including scepticism, worry and amusement before finally settling on a sort of horrified interest.
“And Ianto said yes? Christ, I knew the guy was cracked, but really...with Jack!? Are you sure?”
Gwen tutted. “Think about it, Owen, Jack asked him on a date, and remember what he said about... you know...” Gwen lowered her voice “The bedroom...”
Owen laughed. “I never thought he'd have it in him!” Tosh slapped his arm.
“This isn't a good thing, you know. I mean, does anyone have any idea who Jack is? That's not even his real name.”
“And he still hasn't told us where he was for all that time...” continued Gwen. “All this about 'The right kind of Doctor...' Who's to say he won't vanish again?”
Owen thoughtfully tapped his pen on the surface of the desk. “And there's the whole 'boss' thing to consider...”
“I hope Ianto knows what he’s doing…”Gwen looked worried.
“I’m sure he’ll be fine. It’s not really any of our business, is it?” Tosh turned back to her computer.
Gwen and Owen exchanged glances. Owen started to laugh.
“Maybe not, but that isn't going to stop us, is it?” He glanced around before leaning closer to the girls. “I wonder what they’re doing right now?”
Even Tosh couldn't help turning towards Jack's office, where they could clearly see Jack sitting behind his desk. He had put down the small object by now and was staring into space.
“What do you mean?” asked Tosh. Owen grinned again.
“How much do you wanna bet Ianto's up there right now?”
Gwen sighed. “In case you forgot, the walls are made of GLASS, Owen. I think we can all see that Ianto isn't up there.
Owen shook his head. “No imagination... I wasn't talking about places that you can see from down here... There's quite a bit of space under Jack's desk, you know. It's quite roomy.”
“Two things, Owen. One. I don't want to know how you know how roomy it is under Jack's desk, and Two. Eww...”
Gwen lost her train of thought and grabbed Tosh’s arm as she caught sight of Ianto.
“Look!” she hissed.
“We’re already looking!” Owen hissed back.
Ianto walked over to Jack’s desk and put a coffee mug down. Jack looked up and smiled at him. Ianto said something, which the onlookers couldn’t hear.
“What do you reckon they’re saying?”
“Probably filthy…“ Owen sounded a touch too interested.
“It’s really none of our business…” despite her protests, Tosh was watching as avidly as her colleagues.
Gwen tutted. “ You know what Jack’s like –he’d probably suggesting something inappropriate right now…”
Ianto frowned. “We might have a few Hob-Nobs... If Owen hasn't eaten them all by now.”
“You realise everyone is staring at us, don't you?” said Jack, conversationally shuffling some paperwork.
“Don't be ridiculous, why on earth would they be... Oh... They are, aren't they? I wonder why...”
“After your little comment earlier, they probably think we’re just waiting for them to go home so we can…” Jack made a surprisingly graphic movement with one hand and grinned. Ianto glanced down at the team again, but everybody was studiously working in a way that was somehow more obvious than the blatant staring.
“I'll see about those biscuits, then, shall I?” He set off for the kitchen without waiting for an answer, leaving Jack looking between Ianto’s retreating back and the rest of the team’s careful pre-occupation.
As he reached the lower level, Gwen was the first person to break the measured silence.
“Oh! Hello Ianto!” she said with fake surprise. “Having a good day?”
Ianto looked over at her. “It's okay, I guess...”
“That's good...” Gwen's smile was growing wider and more fake with every second. Ianto couldn't look at her without bursting into laughter so he turned to the small kitchen and began searching through the cupboards for any sign of the biscuits, hoping she would have the sense to leave it there. Unfortunately for Ianto, Gwen followed him over, leaning on the railing behind him.
“Are you SURE you're alright?” she asked. Ianto rolled his eyes.
“Yes, Gwen. I'm sure.”
“You know you can talk to me at any time if there's anything wrong, don't you?”
Ianto found the packet of shortbread fingers he’d hidden during Owen’s last after-hours biscuit raid and tipped them onto a plate.
“You'd be the first person I’d turn to.” He patted her on the shoulder and offered her the plate before moving past her and back towards Jack’s office, leaving Gwen standing in the kitchen doorway, holding a biscuit and looking more confused than ever.
“What did Gwen want?” Jack helped himself to a biscuit.
“Just …checking I was okay.”
“And are you?” It sounded like a loaded question. Ianto just nodded and smiled, and was rewarded with one of Jack’s grins.
“So, Ianto, are you planning on working late tonight?”
Ianto straightened a few files on Jack’s desk. “I was thinking not…”
Jack looked surprised. “You're not worried about Gwen, are you?”
“This has nothing to do with Gwen, Jack.”
“But you're still going home?”
“Yes, I'm still going home. This...” Ianto paused and sighed deeply. “I need to do this right.”
“I asked you out on a date...” said Jack, meekly. ”Doesn't that count?”
Ianto looked over at him. “That's just it, you asked me on a DATE. A date that we haven't had yet. I'm not going to stay here and have you take *advantage* of me over the conference table.”
“I wouldn't...” began Jack.
Ianto interrupted him “You would, you know. And I would probably say yes.”
Jack broke into a wide smile. “Well then, what's the problem?”
Ianto folded his arms and Jack's smile vanished. “You want to know my problem? Fine. You tell me who the hell you are first. You tell me exactly where you were for six months and precisely who your precious 'Doctor' is, and then I might think about it...”
Jack just stared at him. The pause where Jack could have answered Ianto stretched on past the point where a joke could bring things back to normal. Ianto sighed.
“Fine. I’m finishing at five tonight, unless we have an emergency.” He picked up Jack’s coffee mug and left the office.
“Hey, I hadn't finished that…”Jack’s shoulders sagged. This was not how he’d hoped the day would go.
“I'm just worried that he’ll get hurt, you know? That Jack’ll just take what he wants with no thought for Ianto’s feelings.”
Owen rolled his eyes at Tosh. Gwen had talked about nothing but Ianto and Jack from the moment they'd left the hub and headed for this bar. Ianto had left at precisely five pm, which they all agreed was suspicious.
“He’s probably trying to throw us off the scent. He’ll be back in half an hour.”
“Maybe we should go back...” sad Gwen, fingering her handbag. “Make sure that Ianto's alright.”
Owen thumped his pint glass onto the table. “Don't you dare. One of the few days we manage to get out early...”
At that very moment though, there was the highly unwelcome sound of their phones all beeping with an incoming text message at the same time.
Gwen desperately resisted the temptation to say 'I told you so.'
When the three of them hurried back into the hub, they found Jack staring at the rift monitor with his arms folded.
“There you are... Took your time!”
“We were only across the Plass...” replied Tosh, only to be drowned out by Gwen.
“Where's Ianto?” she demanded suspiciously.
“He went home at five, same as the rest of you. And right now we’ve got a Weevil to catch.”
“It's no wonder he’s in a mood,” Gwen murmured to Tosh as they went to pick up their equipment, “That’s his plans for the evening ruined!”
Ianto caught up with them as they were climbing into the SUV. He’d changed out of his suit into jeans and a sweater, and Jack couldn’t help admiring the view for a few moments, until Owen’s driving snapped him sharply back to the present.
They cornered the Weevil down on the docks. Jack split the team, sending Owen and Ianto round to cut it off while he and Gwen approached from the front and Tosh coordinated from the car.
The Weevil was skulking about in some abandoned warehouses. Jack wondered why they never found the damn creatures in more picturesque locations, but decided that most places would lose some of their charm if a Weevil went on the rampage round them. Maybe warehouses were the best place for them after all.
Gwen peered round the corner, her gun drawn, and Jack watched as she ducked back quickly.
She prodded her headset with her free hand. “Tosh?”
Jack heard Tosh's crackly reply on his own set. “I see them, Gwen. Owen says that they've located another few down by the waterside.”
“There's two the other side of the wall.” muttered Gwen. “Why are there so many lurking about?”
Jack shrugged. “Not sure, we still don't really know enough about them to tell...”
“Well, this is going to be fun. Have we got enough room in the SUV?”
Jack gave a short laugh. “I think we may need more than the SUV tonight…”
Whatever was affecting the Weevils stood in Gwen and Jack’s favour, as they took down both of the creatures at their side of the warehouse in quick succession and hurried on to where Owen and Ianto were outnumbered by the aliens.
The arrival of reinforcements seemed to panic the Weevils, as the fighting got fiercer. Jack was concentrating on taking out the nearest threats, and didn't realise that Ianto had been separated from the others until Tosh’s panicked voice came over his earpiece.
“JACK!” she screamed. Jack fired at the last Weevil, which dropped to the floor, and clapped his hand to his ear.
“What? What is it?”
“Ianto. Where is he? He's not answering his comm...”
She didn't need to say anything else. Jack looked around, but Ianto was nowhere to be seen.
“Owen! Where's Ianto?” he demanded. Owen looked up at him from kneeling beside an unconscious Weevil.
“He was right here...” he started, “Oh.”
“'Oh' is not what I need to hear right now, Owen. Where did you see him last?”
“He followed one of the Weevils.” broke in Gwen, reloading her pistol. “He went that way.” she said, pointing towards a dark corner of the warehouse.
“Ianto! Ianto, talk to me! ”
Ianto’s earpiece lying in the middle of the pathway was fairly high up the list of the things that Jack didn’t want to see.
There was a snarl from an alleyway to Jack’s left, and he raced towards it with his gun drawn. Just before he got close enough to see along the alley, a shot rang out and the snarling stopped.
“I’m here.” Ianto’s voice wasn’t as clear or as confident as Jack would have liked, but he was there and he was talking.
“Are you hurt?”Jack stepped over the Weevil and laid his hand on Ianto’s shoulder. Ianto shook his head, still staring at the Weevil on the floor.
“It was so close …” he whispered. Jack closed the gap between them and pulled Ianto into a hug.
“Come on. We’ll get this lot taken care of, and then I’m taking you home.”
Jack had given Gwen, Tosh and Owen the night off again and transferred the surviving Weevils to the cells. Ianto had vanished as soon as they had pulled into the Hub, and Jack was worried about him. Physically Ianto had seemed okay, but it had been a near miss. He hoped Ianto would give him the chance to make sure he was alright. Hell, he just hoped Ianto would give him a chance full stop.
He shut the final door behind the unconscious Weevil and turned to find Ianto watching him from the entrance.
“I thought you'd gone.” Jack said quietly. Ianto shook his head.
“Why would I do that?”
“You said you were going to leave before...”
“And you said you'd take me home.” Ianto countered.
Jack smiled. “Well, you better get your coat then.”
“Are you coming in?” Ianto paused before he opened the door to get out of the SUV.
“If you want me to.” Jack really didn’t need to be knocked back twice in one evening.
Ianto sighed. “I do, it’s just that…I don’t want to rush into…whatever this is.”
“Maybe not tonight then. I still mean it about that date, and if we’re going to do this right then I can’t go inviting myself in for coffee before we’ve managed dinner and a movie, can I?”
“Thanks Jack.” Ianto reached out and squeezed the other man’s hand briefly, grateful for Jack’s attempt to lighten the moment.
Jack caught Ianto's hand as he moved to open the door, and leaned towards him for a soft kiss.
Ianto looked back twice before he made it to the door of his flat.
Gwen’s mobile beeped with a text message from Owen.
I bet they're shagging right now.
She threw the phone across the room and turned back to Rhys. If Owen thought his new-found obsession with Jack's sex life was going to ruin Gwen's, then he had another think coming...