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Game of Cards - Challenge Ficlets

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Back before the world went to hell Rick would be the one to hold the basket or push the trolley when he and Lori went shopping, happy enough to follow in her wake as she selected goods off the filled shelves. In those days Rick hadn't needed to be on guard for an attack from desperate humans just trying to survive, or ravenous zombies. These days he let someone else carry and fill the basket while he stood guard ready to defend them, and that worked out fine enough, except when it was just him and Daryl.

"Ain't no princess or housewife that needs guarding," Daryl had ground out, leading them to a stand-off in the dilapidated store with its broken, near-empty shelves covered in several years worth of dust, each trying to push the basket into the other man's hands.

There wasn't much to gather as the store had been picked clean of the good stuff probably years ago but things could get missed, places overlooked. Rick sighed when he realized the futility of arguing over something like this, knowing Daryl had a similar protective streak, wanting to be on watch for any danger - wanting to protect their backs. They were both capable of looking out for themselves as well as for each other and Rick knew they could work faster if they both took a basket and split up. It wasn't exactly a big store anyhow, and the sooner they headed out the better. He did concede a little when he decided to check under the shelves for anything that might have dropped and rolled under in someone's haste, letting Daryl stand guard while he was on his belly. It paid off with a couple extra tins - some tinned tomatoes, a cherry pie filling... and a tin of cat food. Chicken in gravy. Maybe not high cuisine but add some chili powder they'd found on another aisle and the tomatoes and it would be palatable.

"Beggars can't be choosers," Daryl remarked as Rick handed him the tin of cat food.

They used the checkout counter to pack the few items into their backpacks, and didn't bother arguing over who would hold the basket when they hit the next store.

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Ianto was used to being the go-to guy on the team, the one who made the tea or coffee, who ordered in pizza or prepared meals or sandwiches to keep the team going while they all worked on a thorny problem or incursion through the rift. He ensured the smooth day-to-day running of The Hub, finding information, cleaning the weapons and polishing shoes, and he fed Myfanwy. He was used to being a gentlemen - a valet or butler even - and Jack accepted Ianto's role in The Hub without a word, question, or challenge.

But that was work.

On the occasions when they left Torchwood and The Hub behind them to enjoy an evening together, Ianto had learned to step back and let Jack take care of him for once. So he waited patiently while Jack opened the restaurant door respectfully, ushering Ianto to go first, and even when Jack pulled out the seat for him. He enjoyed the romance, and the love, respect, and caring Jack showed towards him. Afterwards, when they fell into bed together they met each other's embrace as equals.

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John was more than happy for Rodney to handle all the technology with one exception. The remote was his. Of course Rodney called him a control freak but the truth was Rodney was the one with the shorter attention span, quickly growing bored even when watching re-runs of favorite TV shows. He'd pause the show whenever he wanted to ridicule the contents or point out a flaw or moment of interest, or when he gained sudden insight to a work problem and grabbed his pad to write it down. Or he'd switch it off completely if it was coming up to a part he disliked for any reason. It was annoying, so one day John snatched the remote out of his hand and refused to hand it back.

Childish - maybe. Control freak - yeah, maybe, but now when Rodney got bored or disinterested he simply huffed and snuggled up to John on the bed. Sometimes John would smile and carry on watching, and other times the show went on without either of them when he found something far more interesting to watch and entertain him: Rodney.

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It rained often in Hong Kong from March to September - especially during typhoon season.

Raleigh was his subordinate since Herc replaced Stacker as head of the Jaeger program so most people assumed that was why Raleigh always held the umbrella over both their heads when they were outside the Shatterdome on the waterfront. It couldn't be further from the truth.

After they closed the first rift, losing Stacker and Chuck in the process, he and Raleigh had drifted together - figuratively as well as literally - with their relationship becoming one of the Shatterdome's worse-kept secrets. Herc could have ordered any number of subordinates to hold an umbrella to keep him dry but unless Raleigh was assigned elsewhere, he refused to allow anyone else to take this role. Herc guessed it was just his way of showing how much he cared, wanting to protect him from everything - including the elements.

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Despite growing up mostly alone as an orphan and spending years living with Indians, Vin seemed to have some ingrained notions on gentlemanly behavior. Chris had seen him respectfully touch his hat and open doors for ladies in the town, even offering an arm to escort them off the boardwalk. Many looked down on him at first, seeing only the buckskin clothes and unkempt, long hair, but most warmed to him eventually, seeing the compassionate man beneath the rough clothing.

Chris had been raised to treat women with respect too but it took him aback when he and Vin finally acknowledged their strong feelings for each other, moving beyond friendship to something more, and have Vin reaching across to open one half of the saloon doors for him. He knew the majority of the town would see the action as Vin deferring to Chris's leadership of the small group of peacekeepers as a show of respect, and on occasion maybe they'd be right, but others might read more into Vin's actions. It was a risk Chris couldn't take with both their lives in these unenlightened times when they could be imprisoned or even hanged for fornicating with each other. So next time they were at the shack together, he laid it out straight for Vin but showed him how much he had appreciated the gesture if just that one time.

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Ianto never seemed to mind being the one left holding the camera and taking all the photos. He had a good eye for detail and angle, knowing instinctively how to get the best shot. Of course many of his photos were images of Jack, who loved being on the other side of the lens. Jack would smile and pose so naturally and unabashed even when naked, playfully stretching out or 'making love to the camera'. Occasionally Ianto would capture images of him unaware, the camera witnessing the sadness he concealed for lost loves and friends, for dark days of pain and misery. On those days Ianto would go the extra mile to make Jack smile again.

After Ianto was killed Jack found the hidden stash of photographs, looking through image after image of himself - smiling, playfully coquettish, simpering or spread out in all his glory.

There was no photos of Ianto. None of them together.

He brooded for a long time, until the day Gwen handed him a single photo of him sitting with Ianto, playfully ruffling his hair as they smiled at each other. Thousands of years later Jack still had a copy of that photo, uploaded onto a thousand worlds in a thousand different formats. A physical reminder of a memory, of a face and a love he'd hold in his mind to the end of time.

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When Jack insisted on holding the popcorn Ianto merely shrugged and handed over the large carton, reaching over to grab handfuls every now and then. He didn't think much of it until a little later as he dipped deep into the almost empty carton sitting on Jack's lap and heard a familiar though very low moan of pleasure. With his hand frozen in the carton, Ianto glanced sideways into unabashed, lust-filled eyes as Jack rocked a little from side-to-side, the movement of his hand right over Jack's groin no doubt the cause. He pressed his fingers down a little harder, feeling the firmness of Jack's erection pressing back, and snorted in amusement just a little too loudly, getting shushed by the person seated behind them.

A quick look back at the screen confirmed the directions of his own thoughts, grabbing Jack's hand and pulling him out of the cinema. They barely made it into the privacy of the ally behind the cinema before Ianto had his back to a wall with Jack's body pressed against him, trousers almost fallen to his knees, and a hand wrapping around both of them, bringing them both to a hard and fast climax. As he came back to his senses, leaning heavily on Jack to support his trembling legs, Ianto began to snigger.

"You're incorrigible," he finally managed, kissing Jack sloppily.

Jack shrugged. "Sorry about the movie," he stated softly but Ianto knew that was a lie. Jack wasn't sorry at all, and neither was Ianto.

"I'll catch it on DVD one day," he replied, because there were more important things to do than sit around watching movies since he met and fell in love with Jack.

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