Torchwood didn’t tend to get a lot of mail. True, there were occasional deliveries to the Tourist Office of the various leaflets, guidebooks, maps, and Cardiff-related paraphernalia needed to make the place look legitimate, but they were delivered by courier. The postman bought them the usual junk mail that everybody got, and from time to time a postcard from Martha, or whichever member of the team happened to be on vacation, but that was about it. This was altogether different.
The envelope was made of creamy white, high quality paper, and it was addressed in black ink and elegant copperplate handwriting to Captain Jack Harkness, care of the Tourist Information Office, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff. Ianto took one look at it, put up the closed sign, locked the door, and took the envelope straight down to Jack’s office.
Jack’s eyebrows shot up when he saw it. Carefully, he slit it open with the letter opener he almost never used, and then drew the card from within.
“What is it?” Ianto shuffled impatiently in front of Jack’s desk.
“It says here that Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones are cordially invited to a party at Sandringham in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second’s Sapphire Jubilee!”
Ianto sat down in the nearest chair. “Wow! A Royal Invitation! That’s huge!” His eyes widened. “What should I wear?”
Jack chuckled. “Dig out your tux, of course! How often do we get the chance to really get dressed up?”
“Good point. I’d better get it dry-cleaned.”
A month later, after a four-hour drive, the two men arrived at Sandringham, where they’d be staying overnight, and were shown to one of the palatial guest suites. Jack had made sure to leave them plenty of time to freshen up and get changed for the party. Setting their cases on the bed, Jack claimed the shower first, while Ianto removed his tux from the suit bag it had travelled in, hanging it on the wardrobe door and making sure it didn’t have any creases. He unpacked his case, then paced restlessly back and forth across the springy carpet, wishing Jack would hurry up so he could start getting ready.
Jack being Jack, he took his own sweet time in the bathroom, finally emerging over half an hour later, wrapped in a sumptuous bathrobe.
“About time!” Ianto grumbled looking somewhat exasperated with his other half. “What took you so long? At this rate we’re going to end up being late!”
“I want to look my best for Lizzie. Relax, there’s no reason to get stressed; we still have over an hour before the party’s due to start, and the shower in there is amazing! You’re gonna love it! In fact, we should try it out together later!”
Ianto didn’t dignify that suggestion with a response. Rolling his eyes, he went to take his turn in the en suite bathroom.
Jack was right, the shower was huge, with multiple jets, and Ianto had a hard time making himself walk away from the deliciously hot spray, but after twenty minutes he stepped out, dried himself off, and set to work making himself presentable, first shaving, and then styling his still slightly damp hair.
Stepping back into the bedroom ten minutes later, wearing the twin to the bathrobe Jack had been swathed in earlier, Ianto stopped dead, mouth dropping open and eyes almost popping out of his head.
“Oh my God! Jack, what the Hell are you wearing?”
All smiles, Jack did a graceful twirl. “Do you like it?”
“You can’t wear that to the Queen’s Jubilee party!”
“Why not? What’s wrong with it?”
“You’re a man!”
“What does that have to do with anything? Don’t be so conservative, Ianto. I thought you’d like it.”
“This is practically a State occasion!” Ianto explained, feeling slightly hysterical. “You’re supposed to wear a tux, or at the very least a suit!”
Jack frowned, confused by Ianto’s reaction. “But it said on the invite ‘Evening Dress Optional’, and I’ve been waiting ages for the right occasion to wear this one! Besides, it’s not as if Lizzie’s never seen me dressed like this before. I bet she’ll like it; it’s even the right colour.”
Ianto found he had no answer for that; he just stared at Jack, resplendent in a floor-length sapphire blue evening gown with delicate silver trim, the left side of the skirt slit to mid thigh, exposing most of Jack’s left leg, sheathed in a smoky grey stocking. Despite his concern about its suitability for the occasion, he had to admit that Jack looked very elegant.
“Now, you’d better get into your tux while I do my makeup and put my hair on,” Jack told him firmly, gesturing to the brunette wig perched on one of the bedposts. “It wouldn’t do for us to be late.”
Finding his voice again, Ianto turned on the snark in self-defence. “Right, of course not. It’s one thing you attending a royal party in drag, but perish the thought that we should arrive late.” Giving in to the inevitable, he shucked out of his bathrobe and started dressing, all the while surreptitiously watching Jack out of the corner of his eye as the other man expertly applied his makeup. To Jack’s credit, instead of plastering the cosmetics on he went with a very subtle look, and completed the outfit with a simple silver necklace, low-heeled silver peep-toe shoes, elbow-length sapphire blue gloves, and a matching shawl. The dark hair of the wig was worn up, held in place by a decorative silver comb.
Ianto put the finishing touches to his own outfit, tying his bowtie, fastening his shirt cuffs with a pair of silver and garnet cufflinks Jack had given him at Christmas, and finally slipping his jacket on. Jack came to stand beside him as he checked his reflection in the floor-length mirror.
“We make a stunning couple, if I say so myself. Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be. I hope your choice of outfit won’t get us sent to the Tower.”
“Don’t be silly,” Jack chided. “It’ll be fine.”
And of course it was. Jack knew the Queen far better than Ianto did, so it shouldn’t have surprised him that his lover had gauged Her Majesty’s reaction correctly. Lizzie announced that Jack looked perfectly splendid, and that sadly Philip could never pull off a dress because he simply didn’t have the legs for it. Later that evening, she confided to Ianto that she’d always been a tiny bit jealous of Jack for having better legs than she did. That drew a rueful smile of agreement from Ianto.
“To be honest, he has better legs than most women, Your Majesty.”
“I do believe you’re correct.” Lizzie smiled almost cheekily as they watched Jack being twirled around the dance floor by a man in a very expensive custom-made suit. “Jack is proving to be quite a hit with the other guests. It would be most entertaining, I think, to witness their reactions if they knew the beautiful woman they admire so greatly is in fact a man. But perhaps it would be prudent to keep that information among ourselves.”
Ianto chuckled. “Perhaps so, ma’am. After all, it would be a shame to spoil such a wonderful party by inciting a riot.”