“All superheroes wear masks!” Jack pointed out. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “We’re not superheroes, Jack.”
“But we could be,” Jack argued. “We’re immortal, can’t die and we fight on the side of good, saving the world on a regular basis.”
That last part couldn’t be refuted; Torchwood had been responsible for saving the world, or at least their little part of it, on countless occasions, repelling alien invaders, disabling dangerous technology, rescuing people from savage, man-eating monsters, but…
“We can die, and frequently do,” Ianto corrected. “We just don’t stay that way.” Since becoming immortal himself Ianto had gained a whole new perspective on the condition he now shared with Jack; dying and then reviving, often before healing was complete, was no picnic.
“Do you always have to split hairs?” Jack was pouting as his carefully thought-out arguments were systematically dismantled by his lover’s infuriatingly precise and logical brain.
“Someone has to point out the flaws in your harebrained ideas.”
Ianto had long since realised that despite being the youngest member of the team, he was the only one who seemed to have any common sense. Tosh was usually so involved in her computers, or whatever alien tech she was studying, that she was often oblivious to what was going on around her and would agree to things automatically. Owen came up with nearly as many crazy schemes as Jack did, and Gwen never listened to what she was told anyway, always convinced that she knew best, even when she didn’t have all the facts. That left Ianto to keep some kind of order around the Hub, and rein in Jack’s worst excesses, which was a full-time job in itself.
“But think about it, Ianto! If we wear masks nobody will have any idea who we are!”
“Most of Cardiff already knows who we are, Jack,” Ianto explained with strained patience. “Especially the police.”
For a supposedly top-secret organisation, the Torchwood Three team were surprisingly well known. Of course, that might be partially due to Owen’s propensity for ordering pizza under the name ‘Torchwood’ and having it delivered to the small tourist information kiosk that was the cover for their main entrance, much the way the fictional Del Floria’s tailor’s shop had concealed the entrance to U.N.C.L.E.’s headquarters.
The fact that the team’s vehicle was a massive, heavily modified black Range Rover with flashing blue lights and the name ‘Torchwood’ stencilled in yellow along the edge of the roof on both sides didn’t help matters. Neither did Jack’s preferred World War II era outfit, complete with very distinctive air force greatcoat. He never went anywhere without it, and as far as Ianto knew, there wasn’t another one like it in the whole of Cardiff, maybe the entire British Isles; people could probably recognise him from half a mile away.
Actually, Jack himself wasn’t exactly suited to keeping a low profile, what with his larger-than-life personality, incongruously American accent and megawatt smile, his way of flirting with everyone over the age of consent regardless of gender, aliens included, and his habit of riding roughshod over the Cardiff police. He was well known for striding in and taking over their crime scenes whenever anything of an alien nature was suspected.
“But… masks! We could conceal our real identities so we could go out in public as ourselves without anyone recognising us as Torchwood. Think how much nicer that would be!” Jack didn’t give up easily, but neither did Ianto.
“You’re just sore because that little old lady was berating you in ASDA this morning in front of the whole checkout queue for parking the SUV on the lawn at her retirement complex and leaving muddy ruts in the grass and across a flowerbed.”
“I had to park there; all the parking spots were full! It was a matter of life or death!”
Ianto sighed; Jack could be such a drama queen. “It was the anterior stability flange off the Cavellion equivalent of a child’s bicycle!”
Sometimes it seemed to him that the Rift in space and time that ran through Cardiff, dropping all manner of things and creatures in Torchwood’s metaphorical laps, had a warped sense of humour.
“I didn’t know that! It could have been a matter of life or death! It might have been a Weevil, or an unexploded bomb, or the advance scouts for an invasion attempt!”
Unfortunately, Jack was right; they seldom had much idea of what had fallen through the Rift before they located it, and certain things needed dealing with as a matter of some urgency.
“Alright, I’ll concede that point, but it doesn’t change anything; it’s still a pointless, unworkable idea.”
Jack deflated. “So no masks?”
“No masks. Disguising ourselves would prove ineffective, especially since I very much doubt you’d be willing to leave your coat behind.”
Ianto could practically see the gears whirring in Jack’s brain. Then…
“I could wear a cape instead! It’s what other superheroes do!”
“Of course, because in no way would that draw people’s attention.” Ianto had sarcasm down to a fine art.
“You’re no fun.” The pout was back, more pronounced than ever.
“That’s not what you said last night.”
A dreamy smile spread across Jack’s face as he remembered the previous night. “Okay, last night was definitely fun.”
“I’m glad we can agree on something.”
“I just thought it would be nice to go on dates and not have people think we’re at the restaurant or cinema or pub on Torchwood business. I know you don’t like the way people stare at us.”
“Wearing a mask for work wouldn’t fix that, Jack; people will recognise you no matter what. You’re difficult to miss, and impossible to ignore.”
Jack flashed that wide, white grin. “That’s true.” The smile faded. “It’s not easy being a superhero without a mask.”
“Look on the bright side; Halloween is only a few weeks away, and then you can dress up however you want. Mask, cape, the whole superhero bit.”
“Ooh, can I be in costume all day?”
Ianto was about to say no, until he thought of Owen’s reaction if Jack spent all day prancing around in skin-tight spandex.
He’d probably regret it, but it was only for a single day. “If you like.”
“Yay!” Jack grabbed Ianto and planted a kiss on him that made his knees buckle. “Thank you!”
Ianto shook his head; a masked superhero running around the city… Cardiff might never recover!