Jack stared at Ianto is astonishment; he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“You mean to say in all those months you and our TARDIS were travelling around together before you caught up with me, you never did the time travel thing?”
“Of course we did!” Ianto exclaimed indignantly. “We went back to earth in the Sixties, and forward a couple of hundred years, and we travelled back a few months to save the Megilly ship…”
Jack snorted. “Those little hops don’t count.”
Ianto glared at him, hands on hips. “Well excuse me for having priorities other than taking pleasure jaunts to the past and future! I was busy looking for you in the present, in case you’ve forgotten!”
That sobered Jack up; it had only been a few months since their joyful reunion, and he was beyond grateful for Ianto’s single-minded determination to track him down.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…” He trailed off with a vague wave of his hand. “Can we start over? I love you and I really don’t want to fight with you.”
Ianto sighed. “We weren’t fighting, Jack, we were just… having a disagreement. People do that, even people who love each other to distraction like we do; you can’t expect us to always agree on everything, it would get boring.”
Ianto leaned in for a quick kiss. “That’s better. Look, we were both new to everything and we’ve had nobody to show us the ropes. Perhaps we’ve been a bit overcautious but we’re still learning, and time travel isn’t as straightforward as space travel. We didn’t want to jump into anything before we were ready for it. Besides, where would the fun have been in adventuring through time without you? You’d only have been jealous.”
“That’s true, wouldn’t want you having all that fun without me.” Jack winked.
A smile tugged at the corners of Ianto’s mouth. “Perish the thought. So. Time travel?”
“Only if you want to. I mean we don’t have to if you’re not ready. We can wait a while if you’d rather, there’s no rush; we do sort of have forever.”
“It’s hardly up to me, is it? I wouldn’t be the one doing all the work.” In his head, he added, ‘What do you think, beautiful?’
The TARDIS spoke aloud, gentle amusement in her tone. “It would not be so great an effort as you might imagine, Ianto, merely a matter of careful calculation. I should be interested to visit another time period. Do you have one in mind?”
“Dinosaurs!” Jack butted in before Ianto had a chance to think, never mind reply. When Ianto looked at him with a raised eyebrow he grinned disarmingly. “Come on, Ianto, didn’t you ever want to see real live dinosaurs?”
“Already have, back in Cardiff. On several occasions, if you recall,” Ianto replied, smirking.
“Well yeah, but they weren’t in their natural habitat, they just got accidentally dragged into the twenty-first century by the Rift and we had to send them back to their own time. We should visit the Cretaceous, lots of dinosaurs there. Earth, somewhere around… oh, let’s say a hundred million years ago. Don’t want to go back too far.”
“Right,” Ianto drawled. “Because a hundred million years is just a little hop backwards.” He rolled his eyes.
“I just thought we’d want to see a wide variety of dinosaurs and other creatures. If we get there too early some of them might not have evolved yet.” Jack was the picture of innocence.
“Weren’t you stranded in prehistoric times once?”
“Yeah, but that was just after the end of the Cretaceous and the dinosaurs were all barbecued. Cooked dinosaurs make for good eating, but they’re not very interesting to look at.” Jack gave Ianto a pleading look. “Please?”
“Well, I suppose it’s as good a time as any for out first jaunt into the distant past. Alright, but I’d suggest between seventy-five and eighty million years ago.” Ianto’s smile widened. “I always wondered whether or not Pteranodons lived in flocks. Might be fun to find out for sure.”
Jack beamed. “Maybe we could find ourselves a young one, call it Myfanwy the second. You’d better make sure you’ve got plenty of dark chocolate with you!”
“It’s the Prehistoric, Jack, not an exotic pet shop!”
“I know that, but surely they wouldn’t miss just one little one, the runt of the litter or something.”
As they talked, their TARDIS was already feeling her way along the timelines into earth’s past and as soon as she had the exact location set, she made the jump.
“Planet earth, the Cretaceous period, seventy-eight point five million years into your past,” she informed them, opening her doors onto a wide, green valley bordered by tall cliffs.
“We’re there already?” Ianto moved towards the door, staring out across an unfamiliar landscape. A distant silvery sheen marked the presence of a lake, or perhaps a wide river. The groundcover looked strange, made up largely of horsetails rather than the familiar grass of his own time, and while there were some vaguely familiar looking trees, something like oaks, alder, and laurel, there were also a multitude of tall tree ferns and palms.
He could see grazing herds in the distance and even as he looked, something he thought was possibly a large, lumbering Parasaurolophus, judging by the impressive bony crest extending out from the back of its skull, trundled past, ripping a mouthful of fronds from one of the nearest tree ferns.
“Now that’s what I was talking about!” Jack said, joining his husband in the doorway. “Wild dinosaurs!”
“Technically, all dinosaurs are wild since there weren’t any humans around to domesticate them,” Ianto pointed out. “Although, I’m not sure how you’d go about domesticating something that big.”
“We should go talk to it!”
“That would be a bit pointless, wouldn’t it? I doubt dinosaurs converse in any of the languages you know,” Ianto said. “We should probably just watch; it might not be a good idea to startle them.”
Jack clearly wasn’t listening; he lunged out the door before Ianto could stop him.
Ianto shook his head, mildly exasperated. “Typical; he always acts first and thinks later, if he bothers thinking at all. Good thing he’s immortal, because if a dinosaur accidentally steps on him, he’ll be flattened; I’m not sure how good their eyesight is. Oh for heaven’s sake! Now he’s climbing up the tail!”
Jack was indeed attempting to scramble up the dinosaur as if its tail were a slanting tree trunk, but a quick flick of the muscular appendage shook him off, sending him rolling across the ground until he came up against the solid trunk of a palm tree.
“Are you insane?” Ianto darted out of the TARDIS as Jack picked himself up off the ground. The Parasaurolophus continued on its way, paying no attention to the humans. No doubt they were too small to be considered a threat.
“It was right there; I had to try! Who wouldn’t want to ride a dinosaur? You know, maybe we should’ve gone to the Jurassic. Climbing a Stegosaurus would be a lot easier; they come equipped with convenient handholds.”
Ianto facepalmed. “What am I going to do with you?”
Jack didn’t reply; his attention was already elsewhere. “Ooh, look! Is that a Triceratops?” He headed off though the trees to get a closer look.
“Probably not,” Ianto sighed as he followed his husband, hoping to keep Jack from getting himself into too much trouble. “It’s a bit soon for those; more likely a Styracosaurus.” He smiled wryly; he wasn’t sure Prehistoric earth was ready for Jack!