Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Word Count: 805
Summary: Jack asks Ianto a question that Ianto has no answer to.
Written For: Challenge # 203: Pairs at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“I don’t get it,” said Jack, frowning as he and Ianto sorted and folded their clean laundry, ready for ironing.
“What don’t you get?” Ianto asked, raising one eyebrow enquiringly.
“Pairs,” Jack said, which just confused Ianto even more.
“Pears? What’s not to get? They’re juicy fruits and a good source of fibre.” Which was why Ianto had added them to his shopping list a little while ago. “I thought you liked them.”
“I do, but I wasn’t talking about that kind of pear,” Jack said. He waved two socks at Ianto. “I meant this kind.”
“Still not sure what it is you don’t get,” Ianto admitted, well used to trying to unravel his husband’s random comments.
“Well look, I get pairs of socks, shoes, gloves, stockings, and so on, because two things that match are a pair.”
“Yes, that’s generally what a pair means,” Ianto agreed, a smile tugging at his lips.
Jack ignored him and continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “I even get pairs of pyjamas in a way, because you have a top and a bottom half, although I think calling them a set of pyjamas would make more sense.”
Ianto nodded slightly in agreement; he could see Jack’s point.
“What I don’t get is this.” He held up a pair of Ianto’s jeans. “Why is it that trousers are called a pair when there’s only one of them?”
Ianto opened his mouth and then closed it again, frowning. It was a bit odd now that he thought about it. He didn’t have a chance to say anything though, because Jack hadn’t finished yet.
“It’s not just trousers either; pants are the same, and shorts, tights, even dungarees. There’s only one of them, and yet they’re a pair! It’s silly.”
“Well, maybe it’s because they all have two legs, or at least holes for two legs to go through,” Ianto said, after racking his brain for a few moments. “After all, legs come in pairs.”
“Yes, but so do arms, and you don’t hear people talking about a pair of shirts unless there really are two of them.”
Ianto sat down on the edge of the bed, a half-folded t-shirt clutched in one hand. Suddenly he felt like he was teetering on the edge of the abyss as things he’d always taken for granted ceased to make sense. He wondered if this was how Jack felt, living in a time and place that weren’t his own and trying to negotiate his way through a world, not to mention a language, that didn’t entirely make sense to him.
“Um…” was about all he could manage; his brain seemed to have stalled.
Dropping the socks he’d been pairing up, Jack came around the bed to sit beside Ianto and hold his hand. “Are you alright?”
“I’m not sure,” Ianto said plaintively. “I was fine until you turned my understanding of my world upside down. Now though…”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… do whatever it is I’ve done.”
“Upset my equilibrium?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll survive. I’m Torchwood; I should be used to things that don’t make sense. Come to that, so should you.” Ianto smiled wryly. “You just caught me off guard.” He shrugged suddenly and sat up straighter, his smile turning to a teasing smirk. “Anyway, whatever the reason, I intend to keep referring to trousers and so forth as pairs, because calling them a trouser, or a short, or a tight would sound even weirder, and probably wouldn’t make any more sense than calling them a pair does.”
Jack reached into the laundry basket and pulled out a pair of his underwear, studying the garment thoughtfully. “A pant?” he tried, then shook his head. “No, you’re right. It might not make any kind of logical sense, but a pair of pants definitely sounds better.”
Ianto didn’t reply; he had his head tilted to one side and was obviously deep in thought.
“Earth to Ianto,” Jack said, nudging his husband’s shoulder with his own. “What’re you thinking about now?”
Blinking, Ianto turned to look at Jack. “What?” Then his brain registered Jack’s question. “Oh, I was just wondering; humans have two legs, feet, and so on, but what would a being with more than two feet call its socks? A pair would be no good…”
“Zufflets,” Jack told him cheerfully.
“Oh. Well, ask a silly question…” Standing up again, Ianto shook out the creased t-shirt he was holding and folded it, putting it on the pile for ironing, and smoothing out the wrinkles he’d made in it as best he could. “Zufflets?”
“Huh. Learn something new every day.”
Jack got to his feet as well and resumed matching up socks. Ianto smiled approvingly, his world settling back into what passed for normality once more.
Zufflets. Who would have thought?