The last job on 'Ianto’s Very Orderly Daily Torchwood Routine (Rift Permitting)' was to read over and sign any reports Jack had sent through to him during the day.
His enjoyment of this particular job was not what had inspired him to leave it until the last moment of the working day. In fact, it was only through prior experience that he knew it best to leave it until 6pm in the evening. Jack was a notorious procrastinator when it came to any piece of text longer than two sentences, and thus Ianto often found himself waiting on his boss to finish the reports long into the work day. (Of course, the bonus of a frustrated Ianto alone with only him in the Hub for company had nothing to do with the lateness of said reports.)
This particular Wednesday evening was no exception. There had been virtually no activity that required their assistance through the rift that day, which had suited the team just fine: Tosh had had a chance to re-attack the piece of alien code she had been working on translating, Owen had finished his analysis of a recent strain of Weevil-itus that the Weevils in the Hub had caught, and Ianto had finally been able to scrub their freezer which had been host to some sort of alien mucus which the rift had sicced upon the Plass the previous day. There was no reason why, come five pm, Ianto still shouldn’t have received the email documenting the mucus-incident, when it had occurred over twenty-four hours ago- in which time Jack had had no other event to hold his attention on.
Ianto wouldn’t bring it up with his boss. Despite the time it ate away at which Ianto could have spent at his own home relaxing after a day of work, he wouldn’t make a point of it to his boss beside his passive comments about leaving paperwork until the last minute. To bring the topic up would be to ask for a reason behind the action, and though Ianto could sense the predatory eyes watching him when the rest of the Hub was bereft of life, the unspoken decision they had agreed to left them silent and unwilling to talk about anything real (especially when they could be acting on their thoughts instead.) No words of real meaning were ever uttered, at least until they tumbled into Jack’s quarters together and Ianto could no longer help the words that spilled from his mouth as he came undone under Jack’s ministrations...
An email pinged up on Ianto’s computer at exactly 6:15pm. Owen had left the hub with Gwen half an hour earlier (their sneaking around being painfully obvious to everybody but them) and Tosh hadn’t stayed much longer after that. If Ianto had been a braver man he would’ve left the Hub when his penultimate chore had been finished over an hour earlier and reviewed the report the next morning, but he was too far into the game they enjoyed playing to suddenly find his own courage now .
He downloaded the file and waited for his computer to load the document up. When it finally appeared on his screen on the PDF reader, he let his eyes rake over the words and resolutely didn't imagine Jack sat at his desk, his fingers typing out each meticulous word with precise movement. He swallowed and blinked his eyes back up to the top of the screen, deciding this time to actually read the words in front of him. His eyes rested on the title and he frowned, distracted from his thoughts as he noted the way Jack had written the words out.
Pink Goo #5 And It's Reaction to a Freezer
The wording of the title itself wasn't of offence to Ianto- he appreciated that Jack had checked the Archives to find that four other extra-terrestrial pink goo samples had been documented before, and the report title reflecting that would make it easier to file once printed. Ianto didn't even have a problem with the cheeky tone, as one too many times in a serious situation the retrieval of an item from his Archive had been delayed when nobody could remember anything about the item beyond the piece of furniture in the Hub that it had destroyed. No- his eyes were fixed on the grammar of the title, drawn to the 'And' which was capitalised despite not needing to be. He fidgeted for a moment, trying to decide whether it was enough of an issue to go and ask Jack to fix or whether his Archives could stand one out of place capital letter. While checking through the rest of the report, the way his eyes couldn't stop moving to stare at the flaw made up his mind on the matter. He stood from his desk and began to walk to get Jack to send him another version of the report.
"Done already? I only just sent you my report." Jack said languidly from his position behind his desk as Ianto entered his office. He was lounging on his desk chair in a way that infuriated Ianto because he still managed to make a lazy slouch look far too tempting an offer when there was the matter of his report to see to first.
“You’ve made a mistake, Sir.” Ianto spoke, moving closer to Jack’s desk so that he could see the screen. He maneuvered himself around the table, leaning slightly against the side but not moving any closer to Jack than was strictly necessary for seeing the report. He felt rather than saw Jack’s eyes on him as he nodded towards the screen, indicating the report which was in plain view.
“In the title. The ‘And’ shouldn’t be capitalised.” He pointed out, waving his hand towards it. There was a pregnant pause as Ianto turned his head back to look at Jack, waiting for his reaction. Instead, he saw his eyes fixed on his own arm which was reaching over the desk, only half a metre away from Jack’s chest. He had a glazed look in his expression, as if his eyes were focused on something in the distance- yet there was no mistaking the way his view was fixed on the suited arm in front of him.
And then Jack turned the practically yearnful expression to meet Ianto’s face, their eyes locked in a storm of unsaid, repressed words. Everything in Ianto’s being was screaming out at him to ask Jack why he hid behind reports as an excuse to keep what they were doing as a happy, simple coincidence rather than admit that there was something that ran deeper between them. Could it be so hard to admit that he made a passive effort for Ianto- that he actively wanted the Welshman rather than being happily provided the circumstance of him?
“You’re so…” Jack breathed, the air between them almost exploding with tension. Ianto watched as the Adam’s apple of his throat bobbed, Jack swallowing words he didn’t dare say. “You’re always so particular. ” He said, and it took a moment for Ianto to recognise that he was talking about the title of his report as opposed to what he wanted to hear.
He broke the gaze, standing up straight and returning to the other side of the desk on one fluid move. “I’d appreciate it if you could resend me the report, Sir. Capital letter removed, if you would.”
He left the office, confident that within the hour he would be back in Jack’s embrace, acting as if the moment before hadn’t happened and that there was nothing wrong with the way they avoided the elephant in the room.