Characters: Jack, Ianto, mentions Archie.
Word Count: 1020
Summary: Jack has a surprise for Ianto, but Ianto seems less than impressed.
Written For: Challenge 245: Mountain at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“Look at it this way,” Jack said brightly. “Everyone has their own problems to overcome, their own mountains to climb, it’s just that some are a bit bigger than others. Mine was huge, but with courage, determination, and fortitude I’ve finally conquered it!” A smug, self-satisfied smile was plastered across his face.
Ianto remained oddly unenthusiastic over Jack’s triumphant feat, scowling at this particular mountain, one of paperwork rather than rocks and earth. “Yes you have. What on earth possessed you?” He loved Jack, honestly he did, but at that moment he could have cheerfully strangled his lover.
“Well, you’re always telling me I need to get up to date with my paperwork, and with you away I was lonely and bored, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for you when you got back to see that I’ve done it all. I’m completely caught up!” Jack practically exuded pride in his achievement. Ianto could tell he expected to be praised for his efforts, and perhaps praise was deserved, but…
On the one hand, yes, Ianto was glad to see Jack had knuckled down over the past couple of weeks and caught up with his six-months’ backlog. But why did he have to do it all at once, and why right now? Ianto had just returned from spending the last two weeks up in Glasgow, helping Archie move Torchwood Two into temporary premises while structural repairs and a complete rewiring were carried out on Torchwood House, following a minor earthquake. He’d arrived at the Hub barely ten minutes ago, after a long and tiring train journey, and Jack’s greeting had left a lot to be desired. With nothing more than a brief welcome home kiss, Jack had dragged him into his office and unveiled his surprise.
Ianto had taken one look at the stacks of manila folders and the bottom had fallen out of his world. So much for getting to take things easy for a few days, while he recovered from two weeks of hard labour lugging heavy boxes first into a truck, and then into the old warehouse Archie would be using as his base of operations until the repairs were completed.
Groaning piteously, Ianto buried his head in his hands. “Why me? What did I do to deserve this punishment?”
“But… but I thought you’d be pleased!” Jack said with a hurt pout.
“That you’re finally up to date with the paperwork I’ve been pestering you about for the last few months? I’m deliriously happy, of course I am, but dealing with this mountain is going to take me at least a week, and probably longer, fitting it in between all my other tasks! I’m already exhausted from helping Archie, and now I’ll have to work late every night until I get all this checked, uploaded into the computers, and stowed away in its proper place!”
“Oh.” Jack’s shoulders slumped. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Obviously.” Ianto sighed and ran both hands wearily through his hair. “The trouble with you is that you don’t seem to realise that by not doing your paperwork right away you’re piling up more and more work for me. A few files each day only takes me half an hour at most to deal with, but when I get piles like this dumped on me… What takes you a few hours’ hard work takes me days to put away. It’s not just a simple matter of shoving it all in a filing cabinet. Everything has to be cross-referenced so that all material pertinent to a particular item, creature, or incident can be easily located if it’s required, and duplicate copies have to be made and filed under the relevant headings.”
“I know you are, but apologies don’t change anything.” Ianto stared morosely at his latest mountain of work. “Oh well, it’s not going to take care of itself.” He checked his watch. “Just after eight; I can probably fit in two or three hours’ work on it tonight, and then if I come in early for the next week or two…” He shrugged out of his jacket, preparing to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in.
“No.” Jack cut him off, putting a hand on his arm. “You said yourself that you’re tired so you are going home to relax and get an early night. This mountain isn’t going anywhere, you can get a bit dealt with each day, whenever you can spare the time, and if it takes months…” Jack shrugged. “Tonight I’ll sort it all out into categories: Mission reports, expenses, requisitions, medical and biological data, tech analyses, etc. That should make your job a bit easier; you’ll be able to deal with whatever is most important first without having to wade through the whole lot. I’ll sort each pile into date order as well, oldest to newest.”
Ianto nodded. “That would help a lot. Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me; I’m the reason you’ve got so much extra work to deal with so it’s the least I can do. And in future I promise I’ll get all my paperwork done as quickly as I can. No more mountains for you, at least not of the paper kind. Okay?”
Perhaps, Ianto thought, this wasn’t quite as much of a disaster as it had first appeared, not if it taught Jack an important lesson. “Okay,” he agreed with a small smile, relieved that he would at least get the rest of the evening off. Things like this always looked a lot less daunting after a good night’s sleep.
“If you didn’t already have something to eat on the train, perhaps you’ll allow me to buy you dinner?” Jack suggested as he helped Ianto put his jacket back on.
Ianto considered that and nodded. “Why not? I do have to eat.” Taking Jack’s offered hand, he let himself be led out of the Hub, determined not to think about anything to do with work until morning. Like Jack said, the paperwork mountain had waited this long, it could wait a little longer; it would still be there tomorrow.