As Ianto made his way back up from the archives where he’d been filing since the rest of the team headed home a couple of hours earlier, he could hear his phone ringing. Crossing quickly to where he’d left his jacket hanging over the back of a chair, he pulled the phone from a pocket and checked to see who was calling. Jack.
“Ianto! Thank god, I’ve been calling for ages, where were you?” Jack sounded rather breathless.
“Archives, filing. What’s up?”
“I need your help. Meet me in Bute Park as soon as you can.”
“Whereabouts? It’s a big park…”
“You know the big old tree near the centre of the park? Meet me there, and hurry.”
“On my way,” Ianto replied, shrugging into his jacket and digging out his car keys, “Should I call the others?” There was no reply, Jack had hung up.
The sun was just setting and it was bordering on dusk by the time Ianto reached the tree. He quickly spotted Jack’s greatcoat, draped over a nearby bench, but there was no sign of Jack.
“Jack?” Ianto called out, looking around worriedly.
“Up here!” came the reply.
Ianto looked up and sure enough, there was Jack, perched precariously on a branch quite a long way up.
“What on earth are you doing up there?”
“Well, it’s kind of a funny story…”
“Come on down and you can tell me why you had me breaking the speed limit to get here. I thought you were in trouble!”
“Um, well, that’s the problem, I can’t.”
“You can’t what?”
“Get down.” There was a moment’s complete silence, then in a small voice, “I’m stuck.”
“Why did you go up there in the first place?”
“Well, there was this kid, he was crying because his kite was stuck up the tree, so I climbed up and untangled it, he thanked me and ran off, then I started down but I got caught on something. I’ve been trying for ages, but I can’t get free. So I called you, but your phone just kept ringing and I was beginning to think I’d be here all night, now will you please get me down?”
“Ok, hold on, I’ll call the fire brigade…”
“What? No! You can‘t!” Jack sounded horrified.
“Just kidding,” Ianto replied, grinning wickedly. He really wished it was still light enough to take a photo. “Don’t go anywhere.”
“Very funny,” Jack grumbled.
“It is from where I’m standing,” Ianto replied, taking off his jacket, waistcoat, tie and belt and folding everything neatly on top of Jack’s coat.
“What are you doing? Not that I mind, but is this really the best time for a strip tease?”
“I don’t want to get caught on a branch and wind up stuck up there with you. Then we really would have to call the fire brigade.”
Ianto jumped for a low branch, swung himself up and began climbing steadily. In just a few minutes, he was up level with Jack.
“Hi, d’you come here often? Lovely view.”
Jack just looked at him.
“Boy, tough audience…”
“Just get me down.”
“Thought you liked high places.”
“Usually I do, but I’ve been stuck up here for three hours, I’ve got cramp in both legs and I can’t even feel my feet anymore. Standing on solid ground would be a nice change right about now.”
“Hold on tight. Won‘t be much of a rescue if you end up falling to your death.” As Jack took a firm hold on the nearest branches, Ianto sidled round behind him to get a better look at the situation. “Ah, I see the problem.”
“Can you get me loose?” Almost instantly, Jack was free.
“Thank you!” Jack breathed out a huge sigh of relief as he shifted to a much more comfortable position, wincing as the feeling started to return to his feet. “How did you do that?”
“You could have done it yourself hours ago.”
“What? How? I tried everything I could think of!”
“It never occurred to you to take off your braces?”
Ianto smirked at him. “They were hooked on a branch.”
Ianto finished unclipping Jack’s braces and tossed them towards the ground.
“Hey! What did you do that for?”
“Do you want to risk getting tangled up again on the way down?”
“Oh. No, I really don’t.”
“Good. Come on then, race you to the bottom,” and Ianto started down, dropping gracefully from branch to branch, making the descent look ridiculously easy. Jack followed more slowly, cramped muscles protesting all the way.
By the time Jack reached the ground, Ianto was already putting his jacket back on. He folded his tie, putting it in his pocket, then passed Jack his braces.
“Here, you can put these back on now. But Jack, next time you decide to go climbing trees, take your braces off first. You’ll be a lot less likely to get stuck.”
Jack sheepishly fastened his braces back on, then turned to let Ianto help him on with his coat.
“Thanks. I’ll remember that. And I’m sorry for being such a nuisance, I promise I‘ll make it up to you,” Jack said softly, slipping his arms around Ianto’s waist.
“Not exactly how I’d hoped to spend my evening,” Ianto admitted. “Still, I haven’t climbed a tree in years. It was… I‘d forgotten how much fun it can be.”
Jack smiled and leaned in, pressing a soft kiss to Ianto’s lips. “Come on, I’ll buy you dinner and you can tell me all about you tree-climbing adventures. You‘re obviously a lot better at it than I am.”
“Obviously. But then, I did spend a lot of time up trees when I was a kid. Rhiannon used to say I must be part monkey…”
Hand in hand, talking quietly, they strolled back across the park towards Ianto’s car.