Jack looked up from his computer and scowled as Ianto dumped a stack of files in his inbox. “More paperwork? Didn’t I just finish the last lot?” He turned to stare pointedly at the pile of folders gracing his outbox.
“You did, and if you’d kept up to date with it instead of procrastinating you wouldn’t have so much of it to do now,” Ianto replied sternly. “It’s not even as if you have to write much; just read everyone’s reports, append any notes you think necessary, and sign your name.”
Jack did usually manage, Rift permitting, to keep up to date with writing his own mission reports, getting everything down while it was fresh in his mind; it was all the other paperwork that came across his desk that he tended to put off because he found it so mind-numbingly tedious. Requisitions, expenses, budget estimates, everyone else’s mission reports, which often meant reading the same thing from several different points of view, monthly summaries for the Home Office, Tosh’s detailed and technobabble-filled evaluations of alien tech, Owen’s barely legible handwritten notes on autopsy subjects, live aliens, and the plants in the hothouse, Gwen’s long-winded, rambling breakdowns of recent crimes that might have some tenuous link to something alien but probably didn’t… The list seemed endless and Jack had therefore developed procrastination into an art form. He’d do anything he could think of if it meant postponing his paperwork a bit longer, which was how he’d wound up in this mess in the first place.
“But it’s so boring!” he whined. “Can’t you do it for me? I know you can forge my signature.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “I’ve got my work cut out for me just organising all the paperwork work you need to do and filing it afterwards, and that’s on top pf all my other duties around here. Besides, you need to know everything that’s going on around here.”
“I thought you already knew.”
“That’s beside the point; I’m not the boss. You’re not weaselling your way out of this, Jack, not this time; it needs to be done and I’ll chain you to the desk until you’ve caught up if you’re not careful. Trust me, you wouldn’t enjoy that at all.”
“I’m already not enjoying it,” Jack grumbled. “Please tell me this is the last of it.”
“I could tell you that, but if I did I’d be lying. There are three more stacks just like this one.” He set his hand on the pile of files he’d just put on Jack’s desk. “One for every week you’ve found an excuse not to do your paperwork. The sooner you get on with it, the sooner you’ll be caught up, and then if you deal with it when it comes in you won’t end up with this kind of backlog. Now,” he scooped up the files from Jack’s outbox, “after I get these filed I’ll make coffee.” With that, Ianto turned on his heel and left the office.
Jack stared gloomily at the ominous stack and reluctantly pulled the first file towards him, wishing the Rift alarm would go off and save him from his fate. Naturally it didn’t; it was inconveniently going through one of its quiet periods. Looked like he’d have to do as he was told or risk Ianto’s wrath. The thought of decaf instant, and being deprived of various other of life’s pleasures wasn’t an appealing one, so he opened the file and started to read. Why was there never an alien invasion when he wanted one?
Half an hour later, Jack was on his fourth file when Ianto brought him a mug of coffee. He welcomed both with open arms, any excuse to take a brief break, but was disappointed when he noticed the absence of something on Ianto’s tray.
“No biscuits?” The pout he gave would have done a two-year-old credit.
“You haven’t earned treats yet,” Ianto told him firmly.
“But I get coffee?”
“In this case, coffee is a necessity. I doubt you’d stay awake without it.”
“Not sure even a gallon of your strongest industrial strength brew will be enough to keep me awake through all of this,” Jack admitted.
“Which is why I’m withholding treats. Got to motivate you somehow. Finish that stack within the next hour and you’ll get two chocolate biscuits with your next coffee.”
“Only two? I think you need to work on your bribery skills.”
“It’s not bribery, Jack; it’s a system of rewards. For each stack of paperwork you complete, you’ll get a different reward.”
“So what do I get when I’ve completed them all?”
Ianto smirked. “Now that would be telling,” he said with a wink. “You’ll find out if you finish all four remaining stacks, starting with this one.” He nodded to indicate the paperwork on Jack’s desk.
“Do I get an extra biscuit if I finish this lot in forty-five minutes?”
“No, that would be encouraging you to rush, and then you might get careless or not do the work properly. I will be checking.”
“You’re a hard taskmaster, Ianto Jones,” Jack told him with grudging respect.
“Someone has to be,” Ianto said, a wry smile curving his lips. “How you ever kept on top of things around here before me I have no idea.”
“Mostly I didn’t, but back then it was Yvonne Hartman nagging me to submit paperwork to head office, and I was always happy to find new and inventive ways of keeping her waiting. Right, I’d best get on with this if I want my reward.”
“Excellent idea.” Ianto checked his watch. “You have one hour.” He left the office without a backward glance.
So that was how the day went. Jack just managed to finish the final file of the first stack as Ianto entered his office with his mid-morning coffee, so he got his biscuits, but he also got another stack of files that was taller than the last. Ianto told him if he got through that lot by lunch there’d be another, better treat, but wouldn’t tell him what it would be. Still, just the prospect of a treat was enough to make Jack get stuck in.
When lunchtime arrived, Jack was allowed to leave his desk and eat with the rest of the team in the boardroom. Ianto had ordered Chinese.
“I get a break? Is that my treat?” Jack sounded a bit disappointed, but Ianto shook his head.
“You get your treat after lunch.”
“Can’t I have it now?” The pout was back.
So was Ianto’s eye roll. “Patience, Jack. Good things come to those who wait.”
As soon as lunch was over and the others went back to their work, Ianto presented Jack with a box from their favourite bakery. In it was a big slice of chocolate gateau, lavishly decorated with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Jack practically drooled at the sight.
“Enjoy,” Ianto told him. “Your next stack of paperwork will be waiting for you in your office. And don’t even think of staying here all afternoon. If you don’t get the rest of it finished by tonight there’ll be no more treats and you’ll have to stay until it’s all done.”
“How long do I have to get through the next lot?”
“Ninety minutes. I expect it finished by the time I bring your afternoon coffee at three-thirty.”
That wasn’t a lot of time, so Jack didn’t waste it. Picking up his cake, he took it up to his office. He could savour it while he was working instead of gulping it down. A decadent treat like that didn’t deserve to be rushed.
The afternoon passed slowly, with Jack rewarding himself with a mouthful of cake every time a folder made it to his outbox. Sadly, he ran out of cake before he ran out of paperwork, but he kept on doggedly working at it, focussed on earning his next treat. He had one file left when Ianto arrived at three-thirty.
“Not finished?” One eyebrow arched and Ianto gave Jack a disapproving look.
“Not my fault, honest!”
“I was having trouble deciphering Owen’s handwriting on this one; it’s even worse than usual, so I left it for last.”
Ianto looked at the report and cursed. Picking it up, he left the office and marched over to the medic’s workstation. Jack sat forlornly at his desk, sipping his coffee and staring unenthusiastically at another pile of paperwork that had been set neatly in his inbox. Looked like he wouldn’t be getting a reward this time, thanks to Owen.
Five minutes later, just as Jack was pulling the first of the new files towards him, Ianto returned.
“I’ve told Owen from now on he’s to type up his notes properly. He’s out there trying to decipher his own handwriting,” Ianto smirked. “Might take him a while. So, do you want your reward?”
“I still get it?”
“Like you said, it wasn’t your fault you didn’t get finished in time.” So saying, Ianto grabbed Jack by his braces and pulled him into a kiss that went on for several minutes, with occasional breaks to draw breath. Definitely a reward worth getting.
When Ianto finally left, calling over his shoulder, “I want that lot finished by half past six, Jack,” there was a heart-shaped chocolate sitting on Jack’s blotter.
Smiling, Jack set it aside for later, wanting to savour the taste of Ianto for as long as it lasted.
At six-thirty, the rest of the team shut down their computers and shouted their goodbyes as they headed out via the cogwheel door. Jack shouted back and sighed heavily as he signed his name at the bottom of the last sheet of paper. He could barely flex his fingers they were so cramped from writing. Ianto was right; he shouldn’t have let everything pile up like that. It he cleared his inbox each morning it would only take an hour or so instead of the almost twelve hours he’d just spent working his way through the backlog.
Setting the final file on top of the pile in his outbox, Jack looked around, expecting Ianto to appear, but when he still hadn’t after ten minutes, Jack grew a bit concerned. He checked his inbox, just to be sure he’d really finished his work, and that was when he noticed the sheet of paper. Picking it up, he unfolded it and read the message written there in Ianto’s familiar flowing script.
‘St David’s Hotel, Deluxe Suite, 8pm.
Don’t be late. Key’s in your coat pocket.’
Smiling in anticipation, Jack hurried down to his bunker to shower and change.
He let himself into the Deluxe Suite just before eight, to find a table laid for two, and a room service trolley laden with covered dishes, from which delicious aromas wafted. He sniffed the air appreciatively. Ianto was standing by the table.
“Perfect timing, dinner just arrived. I took the liberty of ordering for you.” Dressed in his usual suit, minus jacket and tie, Ianto looked relaxed and rather pleased with himself.
“This is my reward for finishing my paperwork?” Jack asked, grinning broadly. “I have to say I approve.”
“I figured after all that you deserve an evening off. Owen ‘volunteered’ for the night shift,” Ianto replied, making air quotes. “It’ll give him a chance to type up all his notes.”
“You must have had this planned all along.” Jack indicated the hotel room with a sweeping gesture.
“Of course. All paperwork and no play would make for a very unhappy Jack, and we can’t have that, can we?”
“Perish the thought!” Jack agreed.
“So, we have a nice meal to enjoy, and then I’m sure we can think of something to do for the rest of the evening. Shall I serve?” Blue eyes twinkled with mischief as Ianto raised one eyebrow questioningly.
“Please do.” Jack hung up his coat and joined Ianto at the table, seating himself as Ianto started to dish up. He felt equally sure they’d have no trouble at all thinking up ways to entertain themselves for the rest of the night.