Ianto was standing in the kitchenette, waiting for the coffee to brew, staring off into space and looking unusually pensive when Jack found him.
He didn’t seem aware that he was no longer alone and the temptation was too much to for Jack resist, so he crept right up behind Torchwood’s archivist before speaking. “What’re you thinking about?”
Startled out if his reverie, Ianto spun around to face his lover with a yelp. “Jack! What? Don’t sneak up on me like that!”
Jack laughed. “Sorry, couldn’t resist.” Not that he’d even bothered trying. “You were so deep in thought I was just wondering what was on your mind.”
Ianto smirked at the expression of innocent curiosity on Jack’s face. “You were hoping I was thinking about you, weren’t you?”
“Maybe. I mean, with that dreamy, faraway expression on your face it wouldn’t surprise me. So, were you? Thinking about me? Maybe about last night, or tonight, or…” Jack trailed off hopefully, waggling his eyebrows.
He didn’t get the answer he was hoping for.
“Sorry to shatter your happy little bubble, but you are not the sole focus of my every thought.”
“I’m not? Seriously? Well that IS disappointing. Looks like I’ll have to up my game; I do have a reputation to maintain.” Jack stood there, hands jammed in his trouser pockets, looking at Ianto, eyebrows raised, waiting.
Ianto stared back at him enquiringly. “Was there something you wanted? I mean besides coffee and my undivided attention.”
“As a matter of fact, yes; you still haven’t told me what you were thinking about just now. You can’t just leave me hanging, not knowing what you consider more worthy of your attention than me. It’ll drive me crazy!”
Rolling his eyes, Ianto gave Jack an exasperated look. “That ship sailed long ago, you’re already crazy.”
“Come on, Ianto! Pretty please?” Jack put on the puppy dog eyes. “You know I’ll just keep bugging you until you tell me.”
It wasn’t an idle threat.
“Fine. If you must know, I was compiling my To Do list for the day.”
“A list? In your head? Don’t you write it down?”
“No. Surprising as it may sound to you, I find it’s much harder to lose my head than it is to lose a piece of paper.”
Jack snorted. “Funny.”
“Nevertheless, it’s quite true, and I find it much more convenient than a physical list. I do have quite an exceptional memory.”
“You do,” Jack conceded. “So where am I on today’s list?”
“What makes you think you’re on the list at all?” Ianto raised an elegant eyebrow.
Jack’s face fell. “Aren’t I as important to you as your work?”
Ianto sighed, realising he’d have to spell it out. “You, Jack Harkness, are my boss and my partner, not part of my job, and as such you do not merit a place on a list of tasks to be completed,” he chided gently. “Would you want to be nothing more to me than another item to be ticked off one of my lists? Clean coffee machine, shag Jack, pick up dry cleaning?” Seeing Jack shake his head, Ianto smiled. “I thought not. I prefer to file you under ‘Recreational Activities’. In fact, now I think about it, you’re my main recreational activity. Between you and work, I don’t have time for much else.”
“Don’t be; I’m not complaining.” Ianto turned away to pour the coffee, handing Jack his favourite mug. “Torchwood doesn’t leave much time for recreation anyway, and while I wouldn’t want you to get bigheaded about it, or at least not any more bigheaded than you already are, I’ll freely admit time spent with you is seldom wasted.”
“Seldom?” Jack queried in injured indignation.
Trust him to seize on that word to take offence at, apparently not registering the rest of what Ianto had been saying. An explanation seemed to be in order.
“There are occasions when your demands on my attention take me away from the things I should be doing,” Ianto pointed out, “wasting the time I should have been using for filing, or checking reports, or carrying out any of a dozen or more equally important tasks it takes to keep this place running smoothly. Then I still have to finish what I was doing when I was interrupted. Not that I dislike your interruptions as such, they can be very enjoyable, but they do tend to put me behind schedule.”
“Ah, but all work and no play is bad for you. I’m just doing my part to break up the monotony of your routine tasks. Everyone needs to take a break now and then.”
“I take breaks,” Ianto pointed out. “It’s not like I work non-stop all the time.”
Jack scoffed at that. “Your idea of taking a break is to go downstairs and do some sorting in the archives.”
“That’s something I enjoy doing,” Ianto protested. “You could even say it’s my hobby.”
“I thought I was your hobby!” And there was that familiar pout.
Ianto shook his head. “You’re my lover, Jack, not something I like to do if I happen to have a spare moment.”
“You know, I’m beginning to regret asking what was on your mind,” Jack said petulantly.
“Really? Because I’m starting to think I take you more seriously than you take yourself. You see yourself as a pastime, something to be picked up at random moments and put down again when I have something more important to do. Whereas I see you as the person I’ve chosen to share my life with. If you feel I’m neglecting you by not giving you enough attention, then you should say something, preferably to me. Do you feel neglected?”
“NO! Of course not!” Jack scrambled to deny the very idea. “I’m getting confused,” he said, taking a gulp of coffee. “Can we start this conversation again?”
“If that’s what you want.”
“Good.” Instantly Jack’s smile was back in place. “So, what’re you thinking about?”
“That you are the most exasperating man I have ever met, but I love you anyway. Happy now?”
“Good, because I have a list about a mile long of all the things I need to get done today. I haven’t even started and somehow I’m already behind.” Ianto drained his mug, rinsed it under the tap, and put it in the new dishwasher.
“What’s first on your agenda this morning?”
“The same thing I start with every day; I have to clean out and feed the inmates, but they’ve waited this long so I guess they can wait a few more minutes while I do this.” Taking Jack’s mug from him and setting it on the counter out of the way, Ianto grabbed Jack by the braces and pulled him into a long, deep, coffee-flavoured kiss. “For the record,” he added when the kiss ended, “just so there’s no chance of further misunderstandings, you are without doubt my favourite waste of time.”
The he turned on his heel and set off to get on with anther day’s work, leaving Jack standing in the kitchenette with the biggest smile on his face.
“I think I can live with that.”