Ianto had woken that morning to bright sunshine and clear blue skies, and his heart had immediately sunk. He loved his job most of the time, but on a day like today, especially after a long, cold, dismal winter and a wet spring, the thought of being stuck in Torchwood’s underground base for much of the day, out of sight of the sunshine and blue skies, filled him with gloom more effectively than waking to pouring rain ever could. Nevertheless, he dragged himself out of bed, showered, shaved, and donned the suit and tie he’d picked out the night before, just like he did every day. A quick cup of coffee to sustain him and he was out the door for his daily commute, deciding he’d stop along the way and pick up breakfast for himself and Jack, maybe get some doughnuts and muffins for the morning meeting while he was at itl.
Arriving at the Hub, he made straight for the small kitchen area to get the coffee machine going. As the rich aroma of the fragrant brew wafted through the underground base, Jack appeared, as if by magic, enticed from his lair by the promise of his first cup of the day.
“Bright and early as always,” he noted, reeling Ianto in for a good morning kiss.
“Lots of work to do, as always,” Ianto replied. “It won’t do itself.”
“You work too hard,” Jack chided. “And you’re dressed all wrong.”
Ianto frowned. “What’re you talking about? I always dress like this.”
“For work, yes, and it’s always appreciated, but today’s not a work day.”
“Since when?” Ianto’s frown deepened; this was Torchwood, every day was a work day. “Are you feeling alright?” Maybe Jack was under the influence of alien tech; it wouldn’t be the first time.
“Never better! The sun’s shining in a cloudless sky; according to the forecast it’ll stay like this all day with highs in the mid-seventies, and do you know what the best part is?”
“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.” Jack’s enthusiasm was infectious and Ianto couldn’t keep from smiling.
“Late last night the Rift slipped into an inactive phase and it looks set to stay quiet for the next two or three days. I already texted the rest of the team to take the day off.”
“That was thoughtful of you, but you didn’t think to text me the same message?” Ianto huffed, pausing in getting out their coffee mugs and glancing Jack’s way, raising an eyebrow.
“On the contrary, I thought about it, but I decided to let you come in at your regular time, which you would’ve done anyway to feed the residents. Which, by the way, I’ve already taken care of to save time; all you have to do is finish making the coffee and get changed. We’ll have a leisurely breakfast, then get out of here.”
“Out?” Ianto was starting to think he must have missed something.
“Of course out; we’re not staying in here on such a glorious day when we don’t have to. I thought we could go to the beach, pick up food for a picnic on the way, make a day of it. Weather as good as this shouldn’t be wasted and we could both use a break from work.”
“But I’ve got so much to do! I’m behind on the filing and I’m in the middle of scanning the nineteen fifties into the computer database…” Ianto wasn’t sure why he was protesting; he hadn’t wanted to waste the day indoors anyway, but he did have a lot of work to do, things he rarely found time for unless there was a lull in Rift activity. He felt oddly guilty at the thought of taking a whole day off, even though it was technically the boss’s idea.
“You always have a lot to do, but right now none of it’s particularly urgent. A day off will do you good so come on, pour the coffee, get changed, we’ll eat whatever you picked up for breakfast, and then drive down the coast, find somewhere that’s not too crowded and just soak up the sun and watch the world go by.”
Sometimes the best thing to do was just give in gracefully. “Fine, have it your way.” Ianto smiled. “It would be good to get outside in the sunshine for a few hours.”
“That’s the spirit!”
Not much more than half an hour later they were heading for the coast road in Ianto’s car, soft drinks and food from their favourite deli in a cooler on the backseat, along with a blanket, towels, and the Frisbee and beach ball Jack had insisted on bringing; Ianto had no idea where he’d found them.
Both men had their swimming trunks on under their clothes, and were coated with plenty of waterproof sunscreen, the rest of the tube packed in with their other beach supplies.
A few miles out of Cardiff, they pulled off the road onto scrubby grass near some dunes, a spot Ianto was familiar with from several Rift retrievals. Beyond the dunes was a remote stretch of beach, mainly used by local dog walkers, and riders exercising their horses. Tourists preferred to stick to the beaches closer to the city and all the modern conveniences, and even the locals seldom bothered to come out this far except during the height of tourist season, when the more popular beaches were too crowded.
Getting their gear and the cooler from the backseat, they followed a narrow path through the dunes and out onto the beach, making their way along the sand to where a rocky outcropping provided some shade. Leaving their things there, out of sight of anyone who might happen to come along, they shed their jeans and t-shirts and raced each other across the sand to the water’s edge.
Ianto pulled up short, ankle deep in the waves, while Jack ploughed onwards and dived in, only to flounder his way back out a moment later, shivering and hugging himself.
“What did you expect?” Ianto laughed. “It’s mid-May, and only nine-thirty in the morning. The water will probably warm up a bit later on, but for now I’ll limit myself to paddling; don’t want to freeze my assets. There’ll be time enough for a swim later. Why don’t you get the Frisbee? A game with that should warm you up again.”
“Great idea,” Jack nodded, cold droplets from his wet hair splattering Ianto’s bare chest. “I’ll be right back.”
Ianto tagged along behind him, not wanting to be too close to the water while they were playing. It would be best if they didn’t have to get wet every time one of them made a bad throw.
The morning flew past, playing Frisbee and, at Jack’s urging, building a sandcastle; by noon they’d worked up quite an appetite and returned to the rocks, spreading out their blanket and flopping down on it to eat.
“You’re right, this is so much better than spending the first really nice day of the year in the Hub,” Ianto said, rummaging in the cooler for a bottle of fizzy orange to wash his sandwich down with. “I wonder what the others are doing.”
“Hopefully making the most of the good weather. We all need some fresh air and sunshine from time to time.”
“Maybe we should’ve invited them to come along.”
“No way!” Jack sounded horrified at the mere thought. “We already spend every working day with them; we hardly ever get time to spend where it’s just the two of us. Even our date nights usually end up being interrupted by work. Call me greedy but I wanted to have you all to myself today.”
“Well, it looks like you got your wish,” Ianto said with a wistful smile. “It would be nice if we could have more days like this.” He sipped his soda, watching the way the surface of the sea sparkled like jewels in the bright sunlight.
“I wish every day could be like this; just you and me, and not a care in the world.”
“As opposed to us having to spend most days saving the world?” Ianto smirked.
“Exactly. Let someone else save the world for a change.”
“You’d soon get bored. A couple of weeks of this would about be your limit.”
“A couple of weeks like this would be heaven.” Jack shoved most of a doughnut in his mouth, dripping raspberry jam down his chest, which he scraped up with one finger, sucking it clean as soon as he’d swallowed his mouthful.
Ianto rolled his eyes. “You’re such a messy eater you should wear a bib.” He reached for the beach bag. “I’ve got some wet wipes somewhere.”
“Don’t bother, it’ll wash off when we go for a swim in a bit.” Jack leaned contentedly against the rocks, head tilted back, basking in the warm sunlight. Ianto followed suit; what better way to relax while they digested their lunch?
After a short siesta, they braved the water again. It was still quite chilly, but warmer than it had been earlier. A quick swim in deeper water was quite enough though, and they soon retreated to splash about in the shallows, where it was warmer.
Late afternoon found them back at the rocks, drying off and putting their clothes on as the day started to cool down.
“Shouldn’t we be heading back?” Ianto asked as he tried to clean the sand off his feet.
Jack raised hi eyebrows. “What’s your hurry? We can stay a while longer; we’ve still got some food left.”
“You’re determined to make today last as long as possible, aren’t you?”
“What’s wrong with that? We’re all alone, we’ve got a blanket, and there’s another in the car if we need it. Why not just stay here, watch the sun go down… I’m sure we can think of some way to pass the time.” Jack leered suggestively.
“We only just got dressed, Jack!”
“Only to warm up from being in the water.”
Ianto scanned the empty beach; the only people they’d seen all day had been a couple walking their dog a few hours earlier, and they’d kept their distance. The likelihood of anyone else coming along before sunset was slim, and once it got dark…
“I’ll fetch the other blanket and a torch; we’ll need it to find our way back to the car once it gets dark.” Ianto pulled his trainers on and stood up. Jack had a point; tomorrow they’d probably both be hard at work back at the Hub, so why not stretch out their day at the beach for as long as they could? Keeping warm and occupied would be no problem; he was sure they’d have a good time.