Ianto opened his eyes and almost immediately knew it was going to be a very weird day. It was confusing enough when the first thought that popped into his mind on waking was ‘banyan tree’, but even more confusing when he realised that the reason ‘banyan tree’ was the first thought to cross his mind was that he was lying underneath one. It was an impressive specimen too, with multiple trunks, a wide, leafy canopy, and lots of those dangling root things reaching down towards the ground with the intention of making more trunks.
As a connoisseur of trees, Ianto had to appreciate its majestic beauty; it was just that as far as he knew, there weren’t any banyan trees in Cardiff. In fact, about the only place they might be able to grow in the whole of Britain would be in one of those massive glasshouses found in some botanical gardens. Maybe there was one at Kew in London, but that was across the other side of the country…
Dammit, he’d thought the whole spontaneous teleportation thing had been fixed. He closed his eyes and hoped really hard that at least this time he wasn’t naked. Cracking one eye open, he peered cautiously down the length of his body and… Okay, the weirdometer just went up a few notches; he was still in bed; his own bed, with the familiar sheets and the red and black silk bedspread with the dragons on it that Jack had given him at Christmas. That ruled out spontaneous teleportation, unless he’d started teleporting inanimate objects with him. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be all that surprising after some of the things he’d seen. Torchwood and weirdness went together like strawberries and cream, although generally with less enjoyable results.
He looked round himself more carefully; where his bedroom should have been was instead open, grassy plains stretching as far as the eye could see, with other trees dotted about. Some of them were banyans, but there were other species as well, all of them more suited to countries where the weather was much hotter than you’d ever get in Wales. Down by a waterhole he could see a small herd of antelope, and his heart started to pound in his chest; what if there were lions about? Or leopards? He quickly checked the branches overhead for any sign of a cleverly concealed leopard, knowing they liked trees. The fact that he couldn’t see one was in no way reassuring. Their markings were designed by nature to camouflage them so their prey wouldn’t spot them. Chances were, if a leopard was up there he wouldn’t see it until it had him by the throat.
The mattress shifted as if something big was moving on the bed beside him, and Ianto froze, hardly daring to draw breath. Oh God! This was it, he was about to be torn apart by a predator and Jack would never know. It would forever be a mystery how Ianto Jones, complete with king-sized bed, vanished from his little flat in Grangetown, never to be seen again! A heavy, solid weight dropped over his stomach and a faint “Eeep” escaped his lips before he gritted his teeth in anticipation of the coming attack. Should he try to defend himself or would that just serve to delay the inevitable? He clamped his eyes shut, suddenly not wanting to see.
“Morning, gorgeous,” a familiar voice murmured in his ear before a sloppy kiss was planted on his cheek, and Ianto’s breath rushed out of him like he’d been punched in the gut.
“Jack?” he asked uncertainly. Had he only thought he’d woken up when in reality he’d just been dreaming?
“Of course!” Jack sounded amused. “Who were you expecting?”
Once again, Ianto cracked one eye open to see Jack grinning down at him, and beyond Jack’s head… the spreading branches of a banyan tree. Ah. So, either not a dream, or he was still dreaming. Or, third possibility, he was hallucinating…
“Um, Jack? Does the bedroom look a bit… I don’t know, a bit different from usual?”
“You mean the banyan tree and the panoramic view? I know how much you love trees, so I thought this one would appeal to you, but there’s tons of others we can try too. I didn’t look at them all because as soon as I saw this one I knew it would be perfect for you!”
“Huh?” Now Ianto was more confused than ever. “What’re you talking about?”
“Oh, didn’t I tell you? There was a Rift alert last night and it turned out to be the coolest thing ever, a 3D panoramic holographic projector! Better yet, turns out it’s in perfect working order, with a practically inexhaustible power supply, and it’s already loaded with images. I couldn’t wait to try it out. What d’ya think?” Jack was smiling so widely he looked like a kid at Christmas.
Ianto frowned, then pushed Jack off him, sat up, grabbed his pillow, and started hitting his lover over the head with it.
“OWOWOW!” Jack yelped, trying to fend off the unexpected attack and only succeeding in falling off the bed. “What was that for?”
“What do you think it’s for? I woke up and thought I’d been accidentally teleported to another country! I was lying here wondering how I would ever get home, and expecting to be attacked and eaten by lions at any moment!”
Jack dragged himself onto hands and knees and peered cautiously over the edge of the bed, ready to duck if Ianto came at him with the pillow again. “You thought it was real?”
“Of course I did! What did you expect? I work for Torchwood, weird is in the job description, and it’s not like I haven’t wound up in weird places before with no idea how I got there! Remember the whole Barry Island thing?”
“Oh.” Jack looked crestfallen. “I hadn’t thought of that. I just wanted to give you a nice surprise.”
Ianto dropped his pillow on the bed and ran his hands through his hair. “You never stop to think, do you? An idea pops into your mind and you just run with it, then wonder why people react the way they do.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. Honest!”
“I know you didn’t.” Ianto looked around at the panoramic view, taking it in properly for the first time. “It is rather nice, now I know it’s not real and a leopard isn’t likely to drop out of the tree and drag me into the branches as its next meal. Just next time you have one of these brilliant ideas of yours, I’d appreciate it if you’d run it past me first. I’m not sure how many more of your nice surprises I can take before my heart gives out from sheer terror.”
Climbing back onto the bed, Jack wrapped his arms around Ianto, hugging him tight. “No more unexpected surprises, I promise. Or at least, not like this. I can’t guarantee there won’t still be work-related surprises though.”
Ianto shrugged. “We have no control over what the Rift throws at us, we just have to deal with it and take each day as it comes, but at least at work I know to expect unexpected surprises. When I’m at home in bed, I sort of expect things to be more or less the same when I wake up as they were when I went to sleep.”
“I’ll try to remember that,” Jack said solemnly.
“So, where’s this projector thing then? You said there are other images on it?”
“Yes!” Reaching over to the nightstand, Jack picked up an object that looked a bit like a fortuneteller’s crystal ball, with various buttons and dials on its matt grey stand. “There are literally thousands, not just from earth either. Here, there’s a menu…” He punched some buttons and a small screen lit up. “You just select the planet, and then the image you want. When I was looking through, I found a tropical beach one, and several underwater ones, and a valley with a waterfall… Ooh, I didn’t see this one before!” He pressed another button and the banyan tree disappeared, replaced by lush rainforest, full of tropical birds and little tree frogs. “There’s audio too, but I left that off last night because I didn’t want to wake you.” He turned a dial and the bedroom filled with birdcalls and the chirping of frogs and insects.
Ianto lay back on the bed and watched the birds flying from tree to tree. Now he was aware it wasn’t real, he could enjoy it. “Okay, I can see why you were so excited about it, it’s a pretty amazing piece of tech. You’re forgiven,” he said after a few minutes. Already he was getting some ideas for things they could do with the projector. They could have sex on a tropical beach without worrying about getting sand in awkward places, have breakfast in a mountain meadow, or on an alien planet, sleep beneath the Northern Lights, or under the sea with colourful fish swimming around them… “I guess your new toy can stay.”