Tramping wearily back up to the main Hub at almost three in the morning, after installing their newest visitor in a comfy cell, Jack couldn’t help but notice the way Ianto kept stumbling on the steps, clearly almost too tired to put one foot in front of the other. They’d been running around Cardiff since just after midnight, and they hadn’t had much time to sit down and put their feet up the previous day either.
He leant a steadying hand. “You okay?”
“I’ll live, I just need a few hours’ uninterrupted sleep.”
“I can see that, and I’ll make sure you get it,” Jack assured him. “You might as well stay here for what’s left of the night instead of going back to your place; I’ll have you tucked up in bed before you know it.”
Ianto smiled wanly. “Now there’s an offer I’m not going to refuse. The thought of having to drive home definitely doesn’t appeal.” Reaching the top of the stairs, he trailed after Jack across the Hub and into the glass-walled office, making their way to the hatch set in the floor.
“Nights like this,” Jack said as he ushered Ianto through the manhole to his quarters and down the ladder, “make me glad my bedroom is in the Hub so there’s not far to go once the work is done.”
Ianto just about managed a tired eye roll. “Jack, I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t a bedroom, it’s a hole in the ground that happens to have something vaguely resembling a bed in it. Speaking of which, what you insist on calling your bed… Well, in my opinion you’re being way too generous with the terminology. It can barely be described as a cot.” He sank wearily down on the edge of said cot and pulled his shoes off, shoving them out of the way underneath it before starting to remove the rest of his clothes.
Jack pouted. “That’s a bit insulting! This is my home you’re talking about. I notice you’re still willing to sleep here.”
“Any port in a storm.” Ianto yawned widely, setting Jack off too. “It’s not the most comfortable place I’ve ever slept, although I’ll admit you make a very nice pillow, but it’s still better than the sofa or the autopsy table, and it definitely beats dossing down on the stone bench in one of the empty cells.” He’d done all of those things at one time or another, not always on purpose. Stripped to his shorts, Ianto crawled under the covers and turned on his side, making room for Jack to climb in beside him. “Come on, let’s get some sleep while we can. We have to be up again in three and a half hours.”
Doing as he was told, Jack was undressed in less than two minutes and slid into bed, pulling the covers up over them both, snuggling down, and wrapping his arms around Ianto. It was a bit of a tight squeeze for two six-foot tall men, but it was quite cosy when thet were cuddled up together… He yawned again and closed his eyes, but as he drifted off to sleep, he couldn’t help thinking about what Ianto had said.
The following morning, once Ianto was off somewhere, probably making coffee or feeding the residents, Jack dropped back down the ladder to his quarters and looked around. Ianto was right; it was a very small space with barely enough room for the cot up against the far wall, an old steamer trunk at one end, his wardrobe beside it against the end wall, and at the head of his bed, a nightstand with a small lamp on it, and a chest of drawers. A door in the far corner led into an even smaller, very functional bathroom.
The ‘suite’ of rooms had served Jack well over the years since he’d taken over leadership of Torchwood Three. Before then, he’d lived in a succession of small bedsits, all of them Torchwood owned. Not having a lot in the way of material possessions he’d never really needed anything more elaborate; a small space was easier to keep tidy, and it wasn’t as if he brought guests home very often. The only time he’d lived anywhere bigger had been when he and Lucia had been together, and even then, it had been Lucia who’d chosen and bought the house they’d moved into just before their daughter was born. After Lucia had gone, taking Melissa with her, Jack hadn’t been able to bear the thought of living there alone, so he’d packed up the few things he’d wanted to keep, and sold the rest along with the house.
Now things were different again; living in the Hub was convenient, because someone needed to be close by to monitor the Rift at night, and as he needed less sleep than the others did it seemed only fair that he should take on that duty. The tiny room really hadn’t been designed to be inhabited by two people though. It was time to face facts; Jack needed a bigger place.
After another busy day, Ianto went home to sleep in his own bed while Jack stayed at the Hub, pulling up the blueprints for the underground complex and studying them carefully. His little cubbyhole, it seemed, was a roughly partitioned-off section of a much larger area, probably once used for storage. At some point in the past, one of Torchwood Three’s leaders had no doubt decided to create a private space beneath his office where he could catch a couple of hours’ sleep during periods when the Rift was in one of its most active phases. He must have had a hole cut down to the storage room below, then built a wall to create the room after dragging in a few bits of furniture.
The rest of the storeroom still existed on the other side of the rough concrete wall, accessed through a seldom-used corridor on the level below the main Hub, and when Jack went to look at it, he found it was almost empty, except for some rusty tools, a broken stepladder, and half a sack of cement, which had set like… well, like concrete in the dampness. Despite its neglected state, Jack thought the room had potential, especially as there was a second, equally neglected storage space next door to it.
If he knocked down the partition wall between the storeroom and his quarters, partitioned off a larger section for the bathroom, and made a doorway between the two storage areas, he could have a fairly spacious two-room apartment with en suite bath. Plaster and paint the walls, maybe lay laminate flooring or something, get some new furniture… It would take some work, not to mention skilled labour; he’d need a plumber, plasterer, bricklayer, electrician, and carpenter, and they’d have to be Retconned afterwards, but it could be done. The hardest part would be accomplishing it without Ianto finding out.
The perfect opportunity for Jack to carry out his renovations came a little over a month later, when Torchwood’s presence was requested in London for a UNIT conference. By then, Jack had already cleared out the two rooms and drawn up rough plans, complete with measurements. He’d bought everything he’d need to create his new bathroom; bricks for building the walls, a nice modern bathroom suite, including a bath and a separate shower cubicle, floor and wall tiles, and suitable light fittings. He’d also stocked up on sundry other necessary raw materials, and even found time to research qualified tradesmen.
As soon as he’d seen Ianto off on the train, Jack made a few phone calls, then set to work knocking down the partition wall, clearing away the rubble, and moving his furniture out of the way with the help of an anti-grav trolley. The workmen would arrive first thing in the morning; he’d offered them double their usual prices, plus a bonus in order to get them to start right away. He’d bring them in through the underground garage, so they could leave their vehicles there… This was going to work, he was sure of it!
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but thankfully Torchwood had installed copper piping throughout the Hub when it was built, despite the expense, considering it to be a more versatile and durable material than lead, so at least the plumber didn’t need to rip up too big an area of floor. By the end of the week, the major structural work was finished and what remained was mostly cosmetic, some plastering, tiling, painting, and of course furnishing the place. Jack thought Ianto would probably want to be involved in choosing the furniture. The hardwood floors in bedroom and living room, raised a foot above the old concrete floors and fitted with vents to allow for under-floor heating throughout, also needed a final polish, but that should be finished by the time Ianto arrived back in Cardiff.
“You know you were complaining about my bedroom a few weeks ago?” Jack said casually as he drove Ianto home from the station.
“I do recall mentioning that your ‘bedroom’ as you term it is a bit on the small side. The same can be said for your bed.”
“Well, you’ll be happy to know I’ve made a few alterations to my quarters while you’ve been away. I think you’ll be surprised by how much roomier it looks.”
Ianto glanced sidelong at Jack, an amused expression on his face. “Really. Well, you can show it to me tomorrow. Tonight, all I want is a hot shower, something to eat, and a good night’s sleep in my own bed. The one at the hotel sagged so much it took me ten minutes every morning to get out of it.”
“Suit yourself,” Jack replied blithely. Ianto was too tired right now to properly appreciate his remodelled living space anyway. “The Rift should be quiet tonight, so why don’t I stay with you? We can pick up dinner and you can fill me in on London.”
“You don’t want to stay in your roomier quarters at the Hub?” Ianto teased, raising an eyebrow.
“It’s not quite finished, and I’m still sleeping in the same bed at the moment,” Jack admitted. “I haven’t had time to replace it. Besides, you’ve been gone a whole week and I missed you.”
“Fine, you can stay, as long as you promise to let me sleep.”
“Cross my heart.”
Jack was as good as his word, content to cuddle up to Ianto all night, even if his behaviour had Ianto protesting that he wasn’t a giant teddy bear. Nevertheless, both of them slept well, Ianto because he was back in his own bed, and Jack because Ianto was back where he belonged. He’d been telling the truth when he said he’d missed his lover. Even his tiny camp bed seemed too big when he slept in it alone.
The following morning, after breakfast and the best coffee he’d had in a week, Jack practically dragged a protesting Ianto out of his flat and bundled him into the SUV for the drive to the Hub.
“Jack! I didn’t even clean my teeth!”
“You have a toothbrush at the Hub, you can do it there,” Jack told him.
“That’s not really the point. Why are we in such a hurry anyway?”
“I told you last night. You haven’t forgotten, have you?”
“You mean the alterations you’ve made to your bedroom?” Ianto still looked sceptical at the thought. Well, just wait until he saw it! Jack would make a believer out of him yet!
“Exactly! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
“I’ll reserve judgement until I see this transformation for myself.”
Arriving at the Hub, Jack barely gave Ianto time to take his coat off before steering him towards the manhole.
“I’ll go down first, then you follow. But close your eyes and don’t peek until I say you can look. Okay?”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “All this over a change of layout,” he grumbled.
“Please? Pretty please with sprinkles?”
“Yes, I promise! Can we just get on with this? I want to brush my teeth and then get the coffee on before I feed the residents.”
“And people say I have no patience,” Jack muttered, climbing down the ladder and stepping off at the bottom. “Obviously they’ve never met you. Okay, come on down, but keep your eyes closed.”
Doing as he was told, Ianto got both feet on the ladder, then shut his eyes and climbed down.
As soon as he reached the bottom, Jack turned him around and led him a few steps into the room. “Stay there,” he ordered. Returning to the ladder, he flicked on the new light switches, wall and overhead lamps coming on to illuminate the space, then came back to stand beside Ianto. “Okay, you can open your eyes now.”
Ianto did, then blinked, rubbed his eyes, blinked some more, and stared around himself in amazement. “Jack, how…?”
“Turns out my quarters were part of a larger room. I just knocked down the dividing wall and had a bit of work done. What d’you think? I know it’s not quite finished, the plaster has to dry and then it’ll need to be skimmed before it can be painted, but I thought you might like to have a say in the colour scheme and the furnishings. This room will be the bedroom, the lounge will be through that door over there.” He pointed to a door in the side wall. “Here, let me show you the best bit.” Grabbing Ianto’s hand, Jack pulled him towards another doorway, pushing the door open. “This is the bathroom, obviously…”
Moving as if he was in a trance, Ianto entered the room, taking in the gleaming new suite, tasteful plain white, the black marble tiled floor, the cabinets and shelves, the roomy shower cubicle and massive corner bathtub…
“It’s a bath and a Jacuzzi,” Jack explained. “I figured we deserve a bit of luxury. Imagine soaking in that after a hard day.”
Ianto’s eyes glazed over slightly. “Oh I am, believe me,” he said feelingly. “Jack, this is amazing!”
“So, d’you think my quarters qualify as a bedroom now?”
“That and more; it’s a whole apartment, just without a kitchen.” Ianto turned to Jack, grinning. “You still need a proper bed though, something a decent size and with a good mattress…”
Jack smirked, a wicked glint in his eyes. “Does that mean you’re volunteering to go bed shopping with me?”
“I suppose I’ll have to; lord knows what you’ll buy if I don’t.”
“That’s the spirit! It’ll be worth it, you’ll see. No more nights sleeping on a cramped cot in a chilly, damp hole in the ground; it’ll be so luxurious you’ll never want to leave!”
Ianto didn’t say a word; he had a feeling Jack was right.