‘After one hundred metres, take the roundabout, second exit.’
Jack looked ahead, squinting down the country road towards the supposed roundabout and the exit indicated. He slammed his fist against the steering wheel in frustration, swearing under his breath as the road continued straight and true. There was no roundabout, no t-junction, no side-exit to a lane, not even a bloody driveway where he could pull the Audi over and double check the directions.
‘After fifty metres, take the roundabout, second exit.’
“Fuck! Shut up!” Jack‘s frustration overflowed verbally, causing his passenger to jerk awake in surprise.
“Jack… mind telling me why you’re yelling at me?” Ianto’s voice was sleep-slurred, his accent thick and delicious.
He controlled his irritation with some difficulty, knowing that to take it out on Ianto would be grossly unfair.
“Sorry. It’s not you, it’s this damn sat-nav. It’s telling--” Jack broke off as the electronic voice broke in once again.
‘Take the roundabout, second exit.’
Both Jack and Ianto reached for the unit at the same time, their fingers closing around the small, black plastic case together. Jack turned his head briefly, just enough to see the look on Ianto’s face. He immediately withdrew his fingers, letting Ianto have control. He heaved a quiet sigh of relief as Ianto quickly and efficiently disconnected the unit, unplugging the cord and silently putting it away.
“You’re welcome. I’m well aware you would have been buying me a new sat-nav when we reached the next town if I didn’t. Which is what, by the way?”
“Right. So, no idea where are we?”
Jack threw a quick glance at Ianto again, this time in disbelief.
“Didn‘t I just say that?”
“You know, road signs are usually a good indicator.”
“Do you see any? Because I sure as hell don’t. I haven’t since that damn thing sent me to the wilds of Snowdonia.”
“Thought this area looked familiar.”
“Why didn’t you say something, then?”
“It’s more fun to watch you struggle.” Jack heard, rather than saw, the shrug in Ianto’s voice. “There - turn left when you reach the hamlet of Eisingrug - if I remember right, you should be able to reach the B4573 from that.”
“Great. Still doesn’t get me where I need to go.”
“Of course not, Jack. You haven’t told me where that is… although I could give you several suggestions.” The last half of Ianto’s sentence was muttered, but Jack still heard him.
“You love it.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, clearing his throat at the same time. “I booked us a couple of nights in a place in Talsarnau.”
Ianto winced at Jack’s mangling of the Welsh placename. Jack reached down into the pocket in the door of the car, pulling out a couple of printed pages of A4, and dropped them in Ianto’s lap. He picked them up and scanned them quickly.
“We’re booked at that hotel - and no, I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce it. I know I’ve done enough damage today.”
“Gwesty Maes Y Neuadd.” The vowels washed over Jack in Ianto’s smooth as silk voice. “You’re in luck, Jack.”
Ianto was busy with his mobile, entering information with neat, economical movements of his fingers.
“Hmm? Oh, because I--” he waved his mobile towards Jack, careful not to shove it in his face, “have found you directions.”
Jack breathed out a heartfelt sigh of relief. He was fairly confident he could have found his way out of this mess eventually, but then they’d be late, and that would ruin everything.
“What would I do without you, Ianto Jones?”
Ianto didn’t answer. There wasn’t anything he could say.
“So? What’s next?” Jack infused his voice with artificial bonhomie to try to dispel the pall that had fallen over the car.
“I was right about turning left ahead, and the B4573. When you reach the end, turn right, it will take you directly to the A496. That goes right through Talsarnau. The hotel is on the other side of the village. Alternatively, you could stay on the country road.”
“No thank you. I’ve seen enough for now.” Jack tried, but the pout in his voice must have still been evident, judging from the soft laugh from beside him.
“I thought you brought me up here to look at the scenery?”
“Not so much. You’re far more interesting to look at.”
“Jack, be serious.”
“I am. Ianto, I didn’t bring you here to hike up the damn mountain, or walk the hills or estuaries. I brought you here to show you how much I lo--”
“No, not this time. I love you, Ianto. It’s about damned time I admitted it, to you and everyone else.”
“If you can’t handle--”
“--me telling you that, well, too bad. It’s no more than--”
“JACK!” This time, Ianto shouted to get Jack’s attention.
“I love you, too.”
“Oh.” The admission, after months of avoiding the subject, stopped Jack in his tracks.
This time, it was Ianto who cleared his throat.
“Soo, ah, where do we go from here?”
“I thought that was obvious.” As was the leer that Jack only partially tried to smother.
“Idiot. I didn’t mean the hotel. I was talking about us - are we like, what? A couple now?” Jack didn’t miss the subtle shudder that coursed through Ianto’s body as he spoke.
“I hate that word, it’s so limiting,” Jack muttered under his breath. “If we have to put a label on it, I suppose, then yeah. Although I pretty much thought we were already. Ianto, we don‘t have to change who we are to each other.”
“Good. Two nights at the hotel, you said?”
“Good,” Ianto repeated. “Let’s not leave the room at all.”
Jack smiled. Who needed sat-nav? He knew exactly where he was going - and who he was going with - and it was perfect.End