Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen.
Spoilers: Set post Exit Wounds.
Summary: Home alone on Halloween night, Ianto gets an unexpected but surprisingly welcome visitor.
Word Count: 1360
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, Playing host to a ghost,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Halloween had been hectic; Jack and Ianto had made plans, but they’d fallen through thanks to the team having to deal with a plague of rather nasty sharp-toothed creatures that looked a lot like eels but scuttled around on several pairs of short, stumpy legs. The little monsters had needed to be captured before they could reach a nearby residential area, where groups of children were already going door-to-door, trick or treating. Being set upon and bitten by the land eels, as Ianto had named them, would have spoiled everyone’s evening.
As it was Ianto had been nipped several times, sharp teeth cutting right through his gloves and his trouser legs as he’d waded into the feral pack, grabbing land eels left and right, shoving them into containment boxes as quickly as possible. He wasn’t the only one who’d got a bit chewed, but at least none of the menaces had escaped to terrorise surrounding neighbourhoods. It seemed the land eels preferred to hunt as a pack, which had made rounding them up significantly easier.
Still, after all that, and feeling sore from multiple bites, Ianto hadn’t much felt like going to Gwen’s Halloween party. It would already be underway, and he would have to shower and change into his costume first; it didn’t seem worth the effort. Besides, the Rift was acting up and someone needed to stay at the Hub to keep an eye on things; Jack had said he’d do it so the rest of the team could go to the party, which meant Ianto wouldn’t even have a date. He’d opted to go home and rest instead, telling Jack to call him if he was needed.
Jack had stuck a plaster over the last of Ianto’s bites and offered to drive him home but Ianto had refused, assuring his lover he’d be fine getting home by himself; Jack still had the other team members to patch up since he was filling in as medic for the time being.
Martha would be arriving in a week or so to take over what had been Owen’s job. It had only been a few short months since the night Tosh and Owen had died, and the three surviving members of the team were still reeling. Jack had brought in a couple of new team members a few weeks ago, and they were settling in well, but it wasn’t the same, and never would be again. Friends couldn’t be replaced so easily.
Arriving at his small terraced house and shutting the front door behind him, Ianto shrugged out of his coat and hung it on the hook before taking his shoes off, placing them on the rack by the door. He padded out to the kitchen in his socks and put the kettle on, feeling that he deserved a nice cup of hot chocolate after the day he’d had, even if it was only the instant kind. It wasn’t worth making it from scratch just for himself, and anyway, the jar he kept in reserve was the expensive kind, in a completely different class to instant coffee.
Taking his mug and a selection of snacks into the living room, he left the overhead lights off and just turned on the lamp beside his favourite chair, debating whether or not to put the TV on and deciding against it. He wasn’t really in the mood. The curtains were open and from where he was sitting he could look out through the French windows into his tiny backyard, silvered by moonlight. He couldn’t see the moon itself, a shade over half full tonight, but if he sat where he was for long enough, eventually it would come into view. Perhaps when it did he’d go to bed.
“You’d better not be sitting here in the dark moping, Teaboy.”
Ianto blinked, wondering if he’d fallen asleep and was dreaming, but no, he couldn’t be because he was still holding his full mug of hot chocolate, which was too hot to drink yet.
The medic was sitting, or rather lounging, on the sofa off to his left. Which was impossible.
“Nice to see you ‘aven’t forgotten me.”
“None of us have. How could we? We’re reminded every day that you and Tosh aren’t there.” Ianto closed his eyes, but when he opened them again Owen was still there, looking mostly solid, just a little transparent around the edges. “You can’t be here; you’re dead,” he pointed out, just in case Owen had missed that.
“Yep,” Owen agreed, “I am, but it’s Halloween, in case it’s slipped your mind. The one night of the year when the dead can come back and visit. It’s in the rules.”
“So you decided to just drop by?”
Owen shrugged carelessly. “I didn’t ‘ave anything better to do. Thought of haunting Gwen, but she’s got guests and I didn’t think she’d appreciate me causing a panic, Jack’s out chasing a Weevil so it didn’t seem a good idea to distract him, but you’re just sitting here, so…” Another shrug.
“I’m your third choice? Thanks. Nice to know where I stand.”
“Oi! No need to get snippy, mate. I didn’t ‘ave to come, and I can go haunt someone else if you feel like that.”
“No. Sorry.” Ianto found he didn’t want Owen to go. He was probably just a hallucination, maybe something to do with getting bitten by the land eels, but even so… “It’s good to see you.”
“Yeah, you too I guess.”
“How’ve you been?”
“No, don’t be, it’s actually pretty good. Nice place. Tosh is fine; she hooked up with Tommy, and I found Katie but she’s gone to see her folks tonight. I don’t ‘ave anything to say to my mum, I was always closer to you lot, so I wanted to check in, see how you’re doing without me and Tosh.”
“It’s hard. We miss you; nothing’s the same any more. Jack hired a couple of new field agents.”
“Yeah, I saw. They any good?”
“They’re learning. Martha’s going to be joining us soon as team medic.”
“That’s good, I liked her; she knows her stuff. What about you?”
“Got bitten by these land eel things.”
“I know that; I was watching.”
Owen smirked. “Course I was. What’s more entertaining than watching you all falling over each other trying to catch a bunch of slippery aliens? Best laugh I’ve had in ages!”
“That figures.” Ianto looked morosely at the sticking plasters on his hands.
“Not what I meant though. How come you aren’t at the party? Gwen must’ve invited you.”
“Yeah, but it wouldn’t be any fun without Jack, and anyway, all these bites bloody well hurt. Am I…”
“Are you what?”
“Am I seeing you because of the bites? Some kind of venom or something?”
“You’re asking someone you think is a figment of your imagination whether or not you’re hallucinating?” Owen laughed.
“Ah, good point.” Ianto blushed faintly and tried to hide it by taking a drink of his hot chocolate.
“I’ll tell you anyway. No, you’re not hallucinating, the eel things aren’t venomous, and I’m really here so you’ll just have to take my word for it, okay?”
“So I’m really playing host to a ghost?”
“If you want to put it that way.”
“If there another way to put it?”
“Two old mates ‘aving a chat and catching up on news?”
“That works I guess. You’re a bit see-through.”
“Picking fault now? Give me a break; this is my first try! I thought I was doing pretty well.”
“You are, just thought I’d mention it. Only around the edges. And you don’t have feet.”
“Don’t need ‘em.”
“I suppose not. How long can you stay?”
“A few hours maybe. I’ll be gone before dawn.”
Ianto smiled. “So tell me, who else have you run into over there?”
“Oh, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you!”
Relaxing into his seat, Ianto sipped his drink again. This was so much better than going by himself to a party where he’d hardly know anyone. Despite everything, it was turning into a pretty good Halloween.