The Coat hung stiffly from the hands of its owner. Despite the fact that it was a supposedly inanimate object, it was clearly radiating its displeasure at its current condition.
Jack looked pitifully at Ianto. “My Coat’s mad at me. Help?”
Ianto stared in shock at the bedraggled garment. “What on earth have done to it?”
“It wasn’t my fault! Well, not entirely. Those things we were chasing? They spit slime when they feel threatened. There was a lot of slime, and it made everywhere muddy and slippery, so when I fell over, I had a bit of trouble getting up again. I stepped on the hem and it tore a bit…”
“I can see that.” Ianto reached out gingerly and took the battered, filthy coat from Jack’s hands. It relaxed immediately, going limp. “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” he told it. Carrying the Coat, Ianto headed down to the locker room. “First we need to wash the worst of this muck off you.”
Captain Jack was right; Coat was more than a little peeved with its owner. While it understood that they worked in a dangerous profession and that getting dirty and torn was an occupational hazard, it did expect Jack to at least try to avoid unnecessary injury to both of them, but this time he’d been downright careless. Instead of skirting the worst of the muddy slime and approaching the enemy from the flank, he’d staged a frontal assault and then compounded his mistake by taking Coat off and throwing it at the enemy.
Coat considered itself a highly efficient garment; it made the Captain look suitably heroic by strategic billowing, knew just when to flutter for best effect, and could be relied on to flare out dramatically behind him when he ran. It was not, however, equipped to take on the enemy alone and as a result, it had been thoroughly trampled into the mud. It felt it had every reason to be miffed. Jack could forget about any billowing for the foreseeable future.
As Ianto slid it onto a hanger, Coat settled itself comfortably. Soon, clean, warm water was cascading over it, sluicing away the muck and slime. Ianto gently massaged its fibres it the areas that were most badly caked with dirt. It was very soothing and Coat’s bad mood began to ease as it grew drowsy from the warmth.
Lifted out of the spray, it reflexively straightened its shoulders, becoming more alert. It twitched to settle its folds properly as Ianto hung it in the drier, a clever piece of alien tech that drew excess moisture from fabrics without harming them. Five minutes in there and it would be thoroughly dry, every fibre conditioned and supple. It felt better already.
Once Coat was dry, Ianto spread it out on a table, examining it for damage and neatly stitching several small tears and snags as well as the larger one at the hem. Coat didn’t really feel pain, but it was aware of discomfort when it was damaged. Thankfully, it seemed to have absorbed some of Jack’s healing abilities over the years. It would take a few days, but the stitched tears would heal, good as new.
Speaking of the Captain…
“How is it?” Jack hovered in the doorway, frowning worriedly. He’d showered in his own quarters and looked much more presentable.
“Your Coat will be fine.” Ianto finished stitching the last little tear and snipped off the remaining thread. “There, all done.”
Coming over to the table, Jack reached towards the nearest sleeve, only to have it recoil from his touch.
Ianto looked at the coat, suddenly lying stiff on the table as if someone had used too much starch on it. “I don’t think it’s forgiven you yet. What haven’t you told me?”
“I, uh, tried to catch the aliens by throwing Coat over them.” Jack looked sheepish.
“Well, I’m not surprised it’s a bit peeved. It’s a Coat, Jack, not a catching net. Coats are garments; I can understand why it would be offended at being treated as a mere tool.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that, I was just desperate to stop them from getting away again.”
“The aliens. Did they get away?”
“Oh, no, Gwen and Owen netted them as they tried to run away from me.”
Ianto returned the Coat to its hanger, picked it up, and led the way back to the main Hub with Jack trailing disconsolately along behind them. Arriving in the Captain’s office, he hung Coat in its favourite spot on the coat rack.
“So…” Jack started tentatively, “how long do you think it’ll be before Coat forgives me?”
“No idea, I suppose it depends on how sincerely you apologise. I try not to interfere in matters between a man and his Coat.” Ianto patted the coat lightly, made sure it was hanging comfortably, and left to make coffee.
“How about it I promise never to use you like that again?” Jack hesitantly approached the coat rack, watching the way Coat stiffened. “I’ll let you spend the night with Ianto, just the two of you… Deal?”
Coat considered that. It was a very generous offer, considering how possessive the Captain was of both of them. How could it not accept?
As Coat relaxed, Jack smiled. Looked like he was forgiven. Now he just had to explain the deal he’d made to Ianto…