“I’ll go with you,” Jack had said as Ianto headed out to fetch lunch for the team. They were all sweltering in the unaccustomed heat, dressed in the minimum necessary for public decency, and Ianto was fully aware that Jack was only motivated to accompany him because he was reluctant to let his lover’s shorts clad arse out of his sight. Jack Harkness was nothing if not predicable. Not that Ianto was bothered by Jack’s perusal of his arse, but he hoped the novelty factor would wear off before too long, if only because no work was getting done. With any luck, following his arse all over Cardiff might provide a temporary cure, so that Jack could turn his attention elsewhere for a while. Shame that wouldn’t work for the rest of the team; apparently Jack wasn’t the only one distracted by Ianto’s choice of attire.
Jack being Jack, he took the opportunity of the pair of them having to stand close together on the invisible lift for a bit of light groping. Ianto didn’t protest, he was used to it and found it quite enjoyable, but he did issue a warning.
“While I don’t mind being groped in relative private, once we get up on the Plas I expect you to keep your hands to yourself. Look but don’t touch. Understood?”
Jack pouted his disappointment, but dutifully said, “Yes, Ianto.” He knew only too well what ignoring a direct order would get him. There were some punishments even Jack didn’t relish.
“Good. Let’s go then.” Stepping off the paving slab, Ianto started out at a leisurely pace, in deference to the heat, meandering his way through the crowds of tourists taking photographs of the Millennium Centre and the water tower. Jack trailed along a few steps behind, eyes glued to Ianto’s arse, and Ianto smirked slightly as he heard his lover trip on something. Maybe that would teach him to watch where he was going.
Or maybe he was being too optimistic.
Leading the way along a street just off the Plas, Ianto turned at the loud clatter behind him and saw Jack scrabbling to stand the coffee shop’s pavement sign up again. It fell over twice more before he managed to get it to remain upright.
“Jack, what are you doing?”
“It fell over!”
“You mean you weren’t looking where you were going and you knocked it over.”
“Well, it’s a silly place to put it, out on the pavement like that where anyone can walk into it!”
“It’s in the same place it always is, and you’ve always managed to avoid it before.”
“The legs must’ve been sticking out a bit further than usual,” Jack insisted, carefully letting go of the sign and breathing an audible sigh of relief when it didn’t immediately collapse again.
“Alright now?” Ianto asked, raising one eyebrow.
“I think so.”
“Good. Come on, or everyone’s going to be wondering where we got to.”
“Right behind you,” Jack assured his lover, scurrying after him as Ianto walked away, and once again ignoring his surroundings in favour of the far more appealing sight of Ianto’s arse.
The deli was only a few hundred yards down the street, but by the time they got there, Jack had trodden on the feet of two people and a dog, nearly knocked someone else over, and collided with a lamppost. Ianto knew because first he’d heard irate people cursing at Jack, then he’d heard the dog’s pained yelp and its owner berating the clumsy idiot who’d hurt poor Poochie, and then a couple of minutes later he’d heard another yell, followed almost immediately by Jack’s pained yelp and a thud. He’d glanced back then to see Jack sitting on the pavement rubbing his shoulder and glaring at the lamppost as if it had bumped into him instead of the other way around.
With a shrug, Ianto continued on, confident that Jack would catch up, and sure enough, as he pushed open the door and entered the shop, there was Jack, walking face-first into the plate glass window alongside it and making it reverberate. Ianto tried to pretend he didn’t know the idiot who’d just tried to walk through a window, even though this wasn’t the first time they’d been to the deli together.
“Ooh, Ianto, look at you in your sexy outfit! Keeping cool, are you?” Brenda behind the counter said with a smile. She was a happily married woman, devoted to her husband and kids, but that had never stopped her from flirting with him. Sometimes Ianto wondered if she might be related to Jack, maybe a great granddaughter he didn’t know about.
“Trying to,” he said with a smile. “It’s not easy in this heat.”
“That’s for sure. Not often we get weather like this, is it? Makes a nice change, but I wouldn’t want it this hot every day. What can I get for you?”
“Could I order these?” Ianto handed Brenda a slip of paper with the team’s salad order written in his tidy script. “Just got to pop to the supermarket for ice cream so I’ll collect them on the way back.” Brenda made up the salads to order, so they were always fresh and crisp, unlike the limp, tired looking affairs some places served up.
“No problem, love. I’ll have them ready and waiting for you.” She turned to Jack. “Can I help you?” She looked a bit puzzled, obviously not quite recognising him without his trademark coat.
“Don’t mind him; he’s with me,” Ianto told her, steering Jack back out onto the street. “If I’d known you’d be so distracted I’d have left you behind,” he muttered. “Good thing you didn’t break Brenda’s window, walking into it like that.”
“It’s not my fault,” Jack pouted. “It’s the weather, the bright sunlight’s dazzling me.”
“A likely story. You mean it’s what I’m wearing because of the weather,” Ianto smirked. “Come on then; ASDA’s this way. We’ll get the ice cream, pick up the salads and get back to the Hub, where it’s a bit cooler and there’s fewer people for you to mow down. You’re proving hazardous to other people’s health.”
In defence of other pedestrians, Ianto kept hold of Jack this time, thinking that if they walked side by side so Jack couldn’t stare at his arse they might be able too finish the lunch run without causing any more damage. It was a sensible precaution, if not entirely effective; instead of having his eyes glued to the seat of Ianto’s shorts, Jack became fixated on the front and almost fell off the kerb into traffic. All that saved him was Ianto’s bruisingly tight grip on his forearm. “You’re a liability. If I didn’t need another pair of hands to carry everything, I’d send you back right now.”
ASDA was pretty busy despite, or perhaps because of, the heat. Ianto didn’t bother with a trolley; it wasn’t needed just for ice cream and soft drinks so he grabbed a basket and shoved his shopping bag at Jack to carry before wending his way through the crowds to grab a couple of bottles of squash. He did his best to pretend Jack wasn’t really with him as the other man somehow managed to collide with three shopping trolleys in quick succession, bouncing from one to the next like the ball in a pinball machine, but when he bent to get a bottle from the bottom shelf and heard what sounded like an avalanche behind him, he groaned despairingly.
“Jack, what did you do now?” Turning, he saw his lover extricating himself from a pile of cereal boxes that had once been a tidy display but were now scattered all over the floor.
Scrambling to his feet, Jack started trying to put everything back where it had been. “Sorry, sorry, I slipped,” he told the shop assistants who arrived to help. Ianto didn’t believe that for a second.
“Don’t worry about it,” the senior assistant said, hurriedly trying to ward off any chance of an injury lawsuit. “No harm done. Are you alright?”
“Fine; the boxes broke my fall. I’ll pay for any damages…” Jack looked at a crushed and flattened box he must have landed on.
“No need, happens all the time,” the assistant assured him. “We’ll soon have this cleared up.”
Ianto grabbed Jack by the wrist and dragged him away before he could make things worse by trying to help. “Now I’m really starting to regret bringing you,” he muttered. “Let’s get the ice cream and go.” He didn’t let go of Jack until they reached the freezers.
Tossing several tubs and packets of assorted ice creams into his basket, Ianto handed it to Hurricane Jack and assisted the elderly lady who’d almost been knocked headlong into a freezer of veg when Jack had stepped back to get a better view of a certain part of Ianto’s anatomy, enticingly displayed.
“You’re a walking disaster,” he chided, pushing the other man in the direction of the checkout. “Eyes front, Jack, I don’t want to catch you looking at me, just watch where you’re walking. Let’s see if we can get out of here without you causing any more damage, shall we?”
At the checkout, Ianto sent Jack through and told him to stand against the wall, out of the way, while he paid for their purchases. If it hadn’t been for Jack he would most likely have already been back at the Hub by now. It was hard to believe how one man could cause such chaos without even trying.
“Come on, let’s get this lot back to the Hub and into the freezer before it melts.” Actually there was no danger of that; Tosh had fitted Ianto’s shopping bag with a small alien device she’d repaired, which would keep the bag’s contents cold even on the hottest day. “Here, you carry the squash.” He handed a smaller bag containing the two bottles to Jack. “This time I think it’ll be safer for everyone if you walk ahead of me; that way you’re less likely to get distracted.”
“It’s your own fault, Jack. If you paid attention to your surroundings instead of my arse…”
“It’s not my fault you look so good in shorts.”
Ianto favoured his lover with an eyeroll. “I’m not sure that I’ll ever wear them again after this. It’s too risky.”
Jack looked horrified at the very thought. “But you have to!”
“Hm. We’ll see. Maybe if you’re very good. Off you go now.”
With a heavy sigh, Jack turned away and set off towards the exit, with Ianto trailing along a few steps behind. Nobody had to jump out of Jack’s path, no feet got stepped on, and Jack managed to avoid walking into any stationary obstacles. Ianto smiled as they made their way back to collect the salads, enjoying the sunshine and the complete lack of annoyed shouts and pained yelps. This was so much better!
At the deli, Ianto went in alone, paid Brenda, and loaded everything into his bag. Five more minutes and he and Jack would be safely back at the Hub. The lunch run might have taken longer than it should, but never let it be said that Ianto Jones didn’t learn from his mistakes. In future, if it was so hot he was reduced to wearing shorts instead of his usual suit, he wouldn’t let Jack accompany him anywhere. He was much too easily distracted.
On his way back to the door, he could see Jack, nose practically pressed against the glass, avidly watching his every move. He looked like a little kid staring through the sweetshop window, yearning for all the goodies he could see inside. It was sort of flattering, knowing that Jack found the sight of him in shorts more appealing than all the skimpily clad young women and men walking past behind him. Jack even opened the door and held it for him, smiling happily and welcoming him back with a quick kiss as if they’d been apart for far longer than the couple of minutes he’d been inside the shop.
Ianto knew he’d probably regret it, but he set off ahead of his lover, glancing back over his shoulder to make sure Jack was following. As if there was any doubt that he would be. Sure enough, eyes glued to Ianto’s posterior, Jack was trotting along behind him like an eager puppy. Ianto probably shouldn’t have found it as cute as he did, and he’d never admit it, but Jack had that effect on him. Hopefully he wouldn’t knock too many people over as they crossed the Plas. To be on the safe side though, Ianto decided maybe they should go back into the Hub through the tourist office. He wouldn’t want Jack to take a step back on the Invisible Lift and fall off, just because he was trying to get a better view of Ianto’s rear. That would ruin what was turning out to be quite a pleasant day.