Jack always relished having a day off, a whole twenty-four hours when, barring some end-of-the-world emergency, he didn’t have to set foot in the Hub or deal with the everyday evils of Rift Gifts, Weevils, and paperwork. He enjoyed his day off even more when he was allowed to do, or not do, whatever he wanted. It had taken him a while to persuade Ianto that not getting dressed was a perfectly valid choice, but after three months of living together, Ianto was becoming accustomed to seeing his lover vacuuming, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry in his birthday suit.
Ianto was upstairs, putting fresh sheets on the bed when the doorbell rang, and he headed for the stairs to answer the door, but Jack got there first. Jack, who’d been in the kitchen, baking…
“Jack, what have I told you about answering the door naked?” Ianto asked, hurrying down the staircase.
Perhaps it might have been better if he hadn’t spoken, because Jack immediately spun around to face him.
“I’m not naked,” he told Ianto indignantly. “I’m wearing an apron.” His front was indeed covered by the frilly apron, but his back, unfortunately, was not, giving the visitor, who Ianto couldn’t yet see, a very clear view of Jack’s bare butt.
“Oh my God!” The voice was disturbingly familiar and Ianto cringed, wishing the floor would open and swallow him. Naturally it didn’t.
Grabbing Jack and turning him around again Ianto propelled his lover backwards towards the stairs with orders not to show his face again until his butt was decently covered. Jack went, albeit reluctantly, muttering something about how unfair it was to expect him to get dressed on his day off when he was in his own home, but Ianto ignored him. Taking a deep breath to compose himself, he slowly turned to face the music. His sister couldn’t have picked a worse time to drop by unexpectedly.
“Um, hello, Rhi. I suppose you’d better come in.”
Rhiannon tore her gaze away from Jack’s retreating butt and fixed Ianto with a steady look as she stepped through the front door, moving aside so her brother could close it behind her. “Is there a reason you have a naked man in your house?”
“He lives here and it’s his day off. If I’d known you were coming over, I’d have made sure he put some clothes on this morning, he just prefers not to if he isn’t going anywhere.”
“I keep telling Ianto he should try it,” Jack said, coming back down the stairs, still in his apron but with a pair of jeans on underneath. “It’s liberating.”
“Not everyone is as much of an exhibitionist as you are,” Ianto replied. “One of us has to retain a sense of decorum around here. Not everyone wants to look at your bare arse.”
“I’ll have you know it’s very well regarded!”
“Yes, I know; Rear of the Year.” Ianto rolled his eyes.
“Exactly! Excuse me, I have cookies in the oven.” Jack slid past Ianto in the narrow hallway and disappeared back into the kitchen.
“So…” Ianto ushered Rhiannon into the lounge. “To what do I owe this visit?”
“I can’t just drop by to see my baby brother?” Rhi plonked herself down on the edge of the sofa.
“I might buy that if you lived on the next street, but it’s getting on for a half hour drive from Newport and you only come to Cardiff when you have to.”
“Well, thanks to you I had to. Every time I call you, you’re too busy to talk. I worry about you, Ianto. You work too hard; at your age you should be out having fun.”
Ianto scowled down at his sister, hands on his hips. “I have plenty of fun!”
“I can vouch for that.” Jack’s voice trailed through from the kitchen.
“Butt out, Jack! Didn’t anyone ever tell you it’s rude to listen in on other people’s conversations?”
“I wouldn’t be listening in if you two weren’t practically shouting at each other.”
“We weren’t!” Ianto looked at Rhiannon. “Were we?”
Rhiannon sighed. “Seems like these days we can’t talk to each other without shouting. I just want what’s best for you, Ianto.”
“I know you do, but I’m not a kid anymore, Rhi. I’m old enough to make my own decisions and I’m perfectly happy with my life.”
“Are you? How many dates have you been on since you broke up with that girl you were seeing in London? And why did the two of you break up anyway? I thought she was lovely and you seemed so happy that time you brought her to visit.”
Ianto sat down heavily in the nearest armchair. Rhi just never gave up. “I didn’t break up with Lisa; she died. That terrorist attack at Canary Wharf a few years back.”
“What?” Rhiannon was shocked. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I didn’t want to talk about it. I still don’t, it just stirs up painful memories that I’d rather put behind me. Okay?”
“I suppose.” The words were spoken a bit grudgingly. “But if you do ever want to talk…”
“I won’t, I’d only wind up giving both of us nightmares, but I appreciate the offer.”
Rhiannon nodded. “Fine, but don’t you think it’s time you started dating again? There’s this girl I know, smart, pretty, I could set you up with her…”
Ianto cut across what his sister was saying. “Who says I’m not already seeing someone?” He gave a wry smile; it was difficult not to see Jack.
“You’ve got a girlfriend?” Rhi leant forward, eager to find out more.
“Not exactly. Really, Rhi, I have a naked man wandering around my house in the middle of the day, and I don’t just hire him for the nude baking. He lives here and this is a one-bedroom house; you figure it out. I’m going to make coffee; I think we’re both going to need it.” He left Rhiannon sitting on the sofa, gaping after him, and made his way into the kitchen.
“Cookie?” Jack offered, indicating the cooling tray on the table, laden with freshly baked vanilla cookies.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Ianto snagged one and bit into it as he crossed the kitchen to the coffee machine. “Mm, lovely. So how much did you hear?”
“All of it?”
“That figures.” Of course Jack would have heard every word. Damn his fifty-first century hearing; even without them shouting, he and Rhi would have been perfectly audible to the man with the sharpest ears in Cardiff,
“Do I get a coffee too?”
“I’ll consider it.” Ianto measured beans into the grinder, quickly reducing them to fragments, popped a fresh filter into the machine, added the ground beans, filled the reservoir with water, and started the coffee brewing before setting out three mugs beside it.
Smiling, Jack went back to his baking.
Coming to stand in the kitchen doorway, Rhiannon took in the relaxed domestic scene. Jack glanced towards her.
“Help yourself to cookies; I’ve got more in the oven.”
Ianto kept his back to his sister, his attention on the coffee machine, but he tensed slightly, unsure how his sister was going to react.
Eyes narrowed, Rhi looked Jack up and down. “So you’re… what, Ianto’s boyfriend?”
“And do you always bake without any clothes on?”
“It’s a small kitchen, it gets hot in here with the oven going, but I always wear an apron.” Flashing his most charming smile, Jack draped the kitchen towel over the back of a chair and offered Rhiannon a freshly washed hand. “Jack Harkness.”
“Rhiannon Davies, Ianto’s sister.”
“I know.” They shook hands. “Pleasure to meet you.”
Pouring the coffee, Ianto set the mugs on the table and sat down. “You’re not going to yell at me?” he asked his sister.
“Haven’t decided yet. How long have you two been… together?”
“About a year and a half?” It was longer than that, but Ianto didn’t count anything before Jack came back from his travels with the Doctor. Before that whatever was going on between them had been more of a casual arrangement than a relationship.
“And you didn’t think I might like to know?”
Ianto broke a cookie in half. “To be honest, I wasn’t sure how you’d react to me being in a relationship with a man, so I just didn’t say anything.”
“Daft bugger. As long as you’re happy and he treats you well, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?” Rhi took a cookie off the cooling tray and bit into it. “Ooh, these are lovely!”
Jack beamed. “Thank you! They’re Ianto’s favourites. I’ve made them so many times I don’t need to look at the recipe anymore.”
“Bake a lot then, do you?”
“Whenever I have the time. I enjoy it.”
“Looks like my brother does too,” Rhi teased, and Ianto, who was about to take a fourth cookie, jerked his hand back guiltily. “My Johnny can’t even boil an egg. If he tried to bake anything he’d probably set the kitchen on fire. He’s good at other things though, painting and decorating and stuff, so I’m not complaining, mind. It’s just nice to sometimes have biscuits and cakes that don’t come out of a packet.”
“I’ll bake some extra for you next time if you like,” Jack offered.
“Trying to get on my good side, are you?”
“Is it working?”
“Maybe.” Rhi finished her coffee and helped herself to one last cookie, the cooling tray almost empty now. “Well, I’ll let you get back to your baking then. I should get off home.” She stood up and Ianto showed her to the door, where she paused to study her brother.
Ianto looked at her questioningly.
“He seems nice.”
“He is. Rhi, I would’ve told you about him eventually. Probably.”
“Hm.” Rhiannon clearly didn’t believe him. “The cookies are doing you some good at least; you don’t look so skinny.”
“So you approve of Jack because he’s fattening me up?” Ianto raised an eyebrow.
“As long as I do approve of him, doesn’t really matter why, does it?”
“I suppose not.”
Rhi smiled slyly. “Got a nice arse on him though.” She winked and Ianto groaned, burying his face in his hands. “Don’t tell him that or you’ll get flashed every time he sees you.”
Laughing, Rhi said goodbye and started down the path towards her car, parked at the kerb. “I’ll call you later and we’ll discuss when the two of you are coming over for dinner. You can tell Jack to bring some of his cookies,” she called back over her shoulder.
As his sister drove away, Ianto shut the front door and leant his back against it, closing his eyes.
A voice broke the silence. “That went well.”
Opening his eyes, Ianto found Jack standing in front of him, looking smug and dressed only in his apron again. He’d probably shed his trousers the moment Rhi stepped outside.
“No thanks to you and your lack of common decency.”
“There’s nothing indecent about nudity. You know what they say: ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it,’ and I’ve definitely got it.” Jack grinned.
“You flaunt your butt in my sister’s face again and you won’t be able to sit down on it for a week,” Ianto threatened.
“Promises, promises,” Jack said airily, heading back to the kitchen as the oven timer went off.
Ianto’s head fell back against the door with a thud and he closed his eyes again. “I’m doomed.”