“I’ll make a deal with you,” Jack had said the last time the Doctor had shown up unexpectedly, wanting his help in saving the universe. “I’ll go with you, do whatever you want to do, if you promise to bring me home within no more than twenty-four hours of when we leave…”
“I can do that,” the Doctor hurriedly assured him, clearly itching to get going.
“Not so fast; there’s more.”
The Doctor eyed Jack warily. “What else do you want?”
“Nothing too difficult, just a return trip to Mellimur. Ianto could do with a nice relaxing holiday; I think three months should be about right.”
Ianto had protested at that point. “Jack, I can’t be away from here for three months! Who’d keep this place clean and the residents fed? You know what Myfanwy’s like if her dinner’s late.” Despite the fact that he was hobbling around, still healing from various recent injuries, he’d refused to take even so much as a weekend off, convinced the whole of Torchwood Three would fall apart without him. He dreaded to think what would greet him on his return if he took the long vacation Jack was suggesting.
“Time machine,” Jack had pointed out. “We can be gone for as long as we want and still be back in less than a day, so stop worrying!”
He’d tried to protest further, but he was tired and sore, and Jack had quickly worn him down, so here they were, aboard the TARDIS, on their way to this Mellimur place.
“What is Mellimur anyway?” Ianto asked, sitting on the floor of the console room with his back against the wall of the TARDIS, relaxing as she sang soothingly inside his head.
“It’s a paradise planet, very exclusive. Trust me; you’ll love it.” That was all Jack would say on the subject, insisting that to say anything else would be to spoil the surprise.
Ianto brooded silently. Paradise planet. Huh. Knowing Jack, that probably meant lavish hotels, pleasure emporiums, and stuff like that. Jack’s idea of paradise would surely involve massive beds, and hot and cold running sex in every room. The thought did nothing to make Ianto feel enthusiastic about the next three months.
When they stepped out of the TARDIS at their destination, however, he got the surprise to end them all.
Their holiday home proved to be a low bungalow set high up in the side of a rolling blue-green hill. There were no other signs of habitation visible in any direction, no sounds except a gentle breeze whispering through a nearby stand of strange, drooping, silvery-green trees and long, bluish grass, the singing of things that sort of vaguely resembled birds, and the rush of a nearby waterfall, pouring over the edge of a low cliff not far from the bungalow, into a pool of water the deepest blue Ianto had ever seen.
There were spreading golden leaved shade trees dotted about the bottom of the valley, and woods in every shade of green and gold stretching up the hill on the far side, and in the meadows below the house several winged horses grazed, fluttering and frolicking happily. The air smelled fresher and cleaner than anything he’d encountered on earth, and carried a faint honey-like scent that Ianto decided must come from the abundant brightly coloured flowers that delighted the eyes everywhere he looked. He was so engrossed by the view that he never even heard the TARDIS depart, leaving them alone in the midst of the idyllic rural landscape.
“Wow!” It was the only thing he could think to say. “When you said ‘paradise’, I never imagined anything like this!”
“I take it you approve then.” Jack’s grin was positively smug.
“Definitely.” Ianto nodded, turning slowly to take in the full panorama.
“Good, because this is all ours for the next three months.”
“Are you sure you’re okay with that?” Ianto turned to study his lover, who was dressed rather uncharacteristically in jeans and t-shirt. “You won’t get bored being in the middle of nowhere for so long?”
“There’ll be plenty to do. We can hike, swim, and I believe there’s a beach and the ocean the other side of that ridge so we can ride over there, or anywhere else we want to. If we should get bored, we can teleport into the city; there’s only one on the whole planet and I guarantee it’s not like any city you’ve ever seen in your life…”
“Hold on a minute,” Ianto said, cutting Jack off. “You said ride?”
“Yep!” Jack gestured towards the flying horses. “They’re not just here for decoration. There’ll be tack for them in the barn.” Jack pointed to a building Ianto hadn’t noticed yet, set into the hillside like their bungalow but so well camouflaged as to be barely visible. “You’ll soon get the hang of riding them.”
Watching the horses playing, Ianto drew a deep breath of the fresh country air and sighed, already feeling the stresses and strains of recent weeks melting away. Despite his earlier misgivings, he had a feeling this vacation was going to be so perfect it would be a wrench to return to Cardiff when their three months was up. He could quite happily stay right here for the rest of his life.