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Seven Variations on a Theme (or: Here Comes the Hub)

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On Monday, the toilet clogs. It's not really surprising: the plumbing is almost as old as the Hub, which means old, and the bathroom is a fine specimen of 19th century taste and style as well. But it's their only toilet, and no plush and fine antique fittings will ever compensate for its loss, so Ianto finds himself a plunger and some plastic gloves and goes down to fix it.

Unfortunately, Jack notices.

Ianto is just about to survey the damage when Jack slips in behind him, unceremoniously lifts him on top of the sink, a priceless Edwardian, and kisses him, all hungry hands and demanding lips. The porcelain is cold, and uncomfortable and, Ianto can't help noticing, creaking suspiciously. Ianto thinks oh shit and then oh god and then his brain explodes.

Then the sink comes crashing down.

They end up getting one of those rent-a-toilet thingies.

*

On Tuesday, the lift gets stuck, Jack and Ianto inside, exhausted and sweaty from Weevil hunting. That getting stuck thing has been happening a lot lately and Jack suspects some mercurial alien technology is the perpetrator; Ianto reckons it's just some shitty 60s wiring, but keeps his mouth shut and just hopes it won't crash. He really can't die like that, because if he did, Owen would laugh at him.

“It's not all bad” Jack says. His jacket is torn and something suspiciously pigeon poop-y is stuck in his hair. “For example, this lift has excellent lightening. Very becoming, makes me look rather Adonis-like.” Ianto doesn't tell him the lighting got the wrong end of the alphabet and Jack looks more like a zombie instead.

By the time Tosh gets them out, most of the pigeon poop has ended up on Ianto's jacket. He decides he doesn't care.

*

On Wednesday, the SUV's engine fails. Ianto is no mechanic, but he tries anyway, and he's buried in the car's engine, sooth and motor oil blackening his face, when Jack comes up and offers to help him.

While Ianto could appreciate some help, he knows Jack. He knows Jack has that uncanny ability to be competent with big, important things, while being often frighteningly incompetent with small, everyday things. He also knows Jack has that cat-like trait where sometimes he mixes up the concept of Help with the concept of Sitting On You And Not Letting You Go Anywhere.

“Why?” Ianto asks, suspicion bordering on paranoia.

“I have a soft spot for handsome dark strangers and you are very dark right now. Although, I must say, you smell a bit like burnt toast.”

“I'm not exactly a stranger either,” Ianto points out.

“Not picky, me,” Jack says, and grins.

*

On Thursday, the ceiling falls on Ianto's head. Ianto never believed that things like that actually happened to real people, but then, he'd never really believed in kleptomaniac blowfish either. It happens in the vaults where mold and moss have been eating away at the mortar. It's just one very unfortunate brick, but it knocks him right out.

Gwen finds him, because Gwen noticed he'd taken too long, because Gwen notices things like that. He wakes to find her kneeling next to him in the dirt, saying things like fucking shit and focus on me, Ianto. Later, Owen has to fix the wound with nine stitches.

That night, Jack brings him home to make sure he gets into bed, and crawls in behind him without asking.

Ianto wakes at 3 am to find Jack's stolen his pillow, but in the morning Jack makes him breakfast.

Somehow, it's all evening out.

*

On Friday, Myfanwy has diarrhea. Of all the uniquely terrifying experiences Torchwood has given him, Ianto decides, this is probably the most uniquely terrifying one.

When he arrives, Gwen wordlessly hands him a mop and they spend the rest of the day cleaning up dinosaur shit, which isn't so much surreal as it is simply disgusting. Tosh is rushing about, trying to save expensive equipment, cursing all dirty, anachronistic reptile spawn. Owen would have a mouthful to say about this too, Ianto suspects, only Owen refuses to come to work under these circumstances and so Ianto will never know.

When he realizes he's just wiped the exactly same spot for the 50th time, Ianto pauses against the stairs and suddenly the sheer ridiculousness of it all overwhelms him, or maybe it is the nausea. Ianto's concussed head is a white-hot ball of pain and there's pterodactyl poop on his shoes and Ianto puts his face in his hands and laughs and laughs, laughter bubbling up in him like lava, desperate and all-consuming.

“Hey,” Jack says, “are you laughing at my base?”

Ianto would like to apologize, after all he's behaving way beyond rude, but he can't breathe properly and chokes on the words and it all comes out in a jumble of gasps and coughs and girly giggles, which is sort of embarrassing.

“I'm so sorry,” he finally manages, “please don't hit me. I think I might be hysterical.”

Jack probably only kisses him to shut him up.

*

On Saturday, the coffee machine explodes. Unfortunately, it's rather messy which is all the more unfortunate because Ianto was just about to make a cup. Years of study and dedication, he tells himself. Years and years of trying to understand the humble bean and all to have it now explode impressively in his face. It's not fair. He really deserves better coffee karma.

Jack is picking bits of beans out of Ianto's hair, looking so nonchalant and so serious that Ianto knows he's trying really hard not to laugh. Ianto's hand clenches on his shirt where the contents of the water tank have left it damp and uncomfortably sticky.

“You'll have to take this off, you know,” Jack tells him. “Don't want you getting a cold.”

While Jack's motives often are rather too transparent, the not-so-tentative offer lurking behind isn't one to be rejected lightly. Ianto was just attacked by kitchen gadgetry; a shag would be nice. A shag would be real nice, emptying his head and easing the tension in his back, making him forget about all the things wanting to eat, hit or explode on him.

“If you take me out to Starbucks afterwards,” Ianto says.

*

On Sunday, there's a power outage. Ianto is balancing a tea set on the stairs and almost trips when the lights go out with a zing and fuck it all, why is he here on a Sunday anyway. Other people have lives and fantastically delightful things to do on a Sunday morning; Ianto has a job that drives him nuts and now he just almost fell to his death. Great. So, somewhere downstairs is the switch cabinet; up, he'll perhaps find a torch. He decides he'll need a torch anyway; he goes for up.

Ianto is groping for something, anything, on what must be Tosh's desk when he runs into something soft and suspiciously familiar.

“Hello-ho,” Jack says, “Fancy meeting you like that. You feel nice.”

Somehow, Ianto ends up on the couch. They lights still aren't working and he bumps painfully against the table once, but it's okay.