Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Summary: Jack is behaving very out of character so Ianto is quite understandably worried about him.
Word Count: 1430
Written For: dailyprompt 18-2-2018. Prompt at the end.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Jack had been behaving a bit oddly for the past few days, and Ianto was growing concerned. His boss and lover had suddenly become curiously distant after a retrieval where he claimed to have found nothing of any interest, and since then, he’d spent most of his time in his office, or down in his bunker, alone. He’d even turned down Ianto’s invitations to dinner and a night in a real bed, something that had never happened before. Add to that the way he kept his coat on all the time, and was constantly shifting uncomfortably whenever he was sitting down, and Ianto had come to the conclusion that either Jack had another lover, perhaps an alien that had come through the Rift, or else, as absurd as it sounded considering Jack’s immortality and rapid healing abilities, the Captain was ill.
Four days, Ianto decided, was more than long enough to wait for Jack to say something; it was time to get to the bottom of whatever was ailing his lover, so with that in mind, as soon as the rest of the team had left for the evening, Ianto poured two mugs of freshly made coffee and carried them up to Jack’s office. He’d talk to the other man first; he could always call Owen and drag him back into work later, if that proved necessary.
Jack looked up from playing Spider Solitaire on his computer. “Ianto! I thought you’d left with the others… Oooh, is that coffee?” He started to reach for his blue and white striped mug, then winced slightly and drew his arm back, letting Ianto set the steaming mug in front of him instead of taking it from his lover’s hand.
“Of course it is. I would’ve thought you’d smell it long before I could get here with it.”
“Yes, sorry, bit distracted.”
“I’ve noticed. Jack, we need to talk.”
Jack looked startled. “What? Why?”
“How about because you’ve been avoiding us? Not just me but the whole team. Everyone’s noticed, so I have to ask; who is she, he, or it, and why are you keeping them a secret from me? I would’ve at least expected to be invited to join a threesome, I think I deserve that much.”
“What are you talking about?” The confusion couldn’t have been feigned; Jack was a good conman, probably one of the best, but subtle though they were Ianto knew all his tells by now and none of them were in evidence.
“Right, so you don’t have another lover, that was my first guess but it seems I was in error, so we’ll try the other alternative; what’s the matter with you? Are you ill? Do I need to call Owen?”
“No, of course not! I’m fine.”
There it was, just the tiniest twitch of his left eye; Jack was lying. Ianto folded his arms over his chest and glared sternly at his Captain. “No, you’re not fine. Do you really think you can hide anything from me? You keep your coat on all the time, you don’t want to drive the SUV, you’re uncomfortable whenever you’re sitting down, and it clearly hurts you to reach for anything. Have you injured your back? Are you hiding a heat pad or an ice pack under your coat? Whatever it is, just tell me; maybe I can help.”
Jack’s shoulders sagged and he sighed, a mixture of relief and resignation. “I didn’t want you to find out, I thought they would go away on their own, but they haven’t…”
“Thought what would go away?” Ianto eyed Jack suspiciously. “What exactly is it you’re hiding?”
“It might be best if I just showed you.” Jack pushed his chair back and stood up, sliding his coat off. Beneath it, his upper body seemed bulkier than usual and Jack hesitated a moment before slowly unbuttoning his shirt. “Brace yourself.”
The first thing Ianto noticed was that beneath his usual light blue shirt, Jack was bare-chested; no t-shirt, which was of itself highly unusual. Normally he wore one even on the hottest days, and being February, it was currently quite chilly out. Then Jack drew a deep breath and threw his shirt open with a somewhat apologetic rather than triumphant, “Ta da!”
Ianto stared, eyebrows gradually creeping upwards. “Okay, well, that’s… different. Certainly not what I was expecting.” On each side, approximately four inches below his armpits, matching clusters of three pale blue tentacles were sprouting from Jack’s torso, restlessly coiling and uncoiling at random. They appeared to be about twenty inches long, and merged seamlessly into Jack’s skin. “How did that happen?”
Jack huffed out a breath. “I wish I knew.”
“Was it whatever you found the other day? The thing you said was nothing of interest?”
“No, it definitely wasn’t that. I meant what I said; that wasn’t even remotely interesting, just a bundle of propaganda leaflets from the civil war on Nagrev IV. They didn’t make for pleasant reading so I tossed them in the furnace.”
“So you don’t have any idea what’s causing you to suddenly sprout tentacles?” They were quite hypnotic in their writhing, and when Ianto reached out to touch one, it coiled gently around his finger, soft and warm to the touch, yet with an underlying strength.
“None whatsoever. You’re not disgusted by them?”
“Why would I be? However bizarre and unexpected they might be, they’re still a part of you, and this is hardly the first time you’ve developed… shall we say, add-ons? Come to that, most of the team have at one time or another, the only real surprise is that it’s never been tentacles until now. The kind of things we see, I would have expected tentacles of some sort at least once a month. From what you’ve told us, a lot of alien species have them.”
“Oh they do, there are literally hundreds of tentacled beings out in the universe, and the majority are sentient. Some of the most highly intelligent races have tentacles, and they’re extremely adept at using them.” From the expression on Jack’s face, Ianto knew what uses Jack was referring to; he’d heard countless stories about the unparalleled delights the addition of tentacles could bring to a night of passion.
“So I’ve heard,” he said dryly.
Jack grinned. “I guess you have. Truth is, once the people of earth spread out into the universe and started meeting other races, there was, or rather will be, a lot of interbreeding between them and a whole host of biologically compatible races. By my time, pure humans are a distant memory. Even those of us who still look human have genetic traits from several different races; better hearing, eyesight, greater lifespans, the ability to hold our breath under water far longer than any human ever could…” Jack had proved that ability to Ianto several times during shared baths. “No doubt some of my ancestors had tentacles.”
“Maybe some of your dormant DNA from tentacled ancestors has somehow been activated, triggering… ah… spontaneous tentacle growth?” Ianto suggested. Without really meaning to, he was lightly stroking Jack’s left-hand cluster of tentacles, which were twining around his hand in response. “Perhaps by something in that box of stuff from the archives we were going through last week?”
“What?” Jack dragged his attention back from wherever it had wandered, his eyes glazed.
“I said…” Ianto started, then looked at Jack and his tentacles. “Oh, what the hell, fixing this can wait for another day, we might as well make the most of these while you’ve got them; they seem to be quite sensitive.”
“You have no idea,” Jack groaned, grabbing at Ianto with both hands and all six tentacles. “How about we go somewhere more comfortable?”
“Excellent idea.” Ianto gestured to the manhole leading to Jack’s quarters. “Your place or mine?”
“Yours, I think; bigger bed and a nice big bathtub.” He reluctantly let go of Ianto, who picked Jack’s coat up off his chair and helped him into it. Having tentacles could be a bit uncomfortable, they tended to tickle as they writhed inside his shirt, not to mention they were so sensitive that they hurt when they got pinched as he moved, but there was no real harm in keeping them for a while longer, especially since Ianto seemed to like them. He cursed himself for not saying something immediately, thinking of all the fun they could’ve been having. Ah well, they could make up for lost time starting tonight as he taught Ianto about the fun things you could do with tentacles!
A/N: Prompt was ‘Surprise Tentacles’.