Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Word Count: 1938
Summary: Jack and Ianto are off on vacation, but they're hitting a few minor snags with their luggage...
Written For: Challenge # 162: Suitcase at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“A backpack might be fine for a few days in a cottage up the coast, but as we’re going abroad for our holiday this year, you really need a proper suitcase,” Ianto told Jack as they picked their tickets up at the travel agent’s.
“Hey, I’ve got a suitcase!” Jack pouted indignantly at his lover.
“You have?” That was news to Ianto; he’d certainly never seen it.
“Of course I have, I just don’t have a lot of space in my bunker so I keep all the things I’m not currently using in storage. We can swing by the storage place on our way back to the Hub and pick it up.”
Ianto shrugged. “Fine, might as well; that’ll be one thing less to do later.”
Jack parked in front of the huge warehouse and led the way through a maze of corridors to his storage space, unlocking the door to reveal a jumble of furniture and boxes that almost filled the small room.
Ianto stared in horror. “How are we supposed to find your suitcase in there?”
“Relax, Ianto, it’ll be fine; I know exactly where it is. Just help me move some of this stuff so I can get at it.” Jack reached for the first item, an ornate headboard, and tugged it out of the clutter, setting it aside.
With a resigned sigh, Ianto took off his jacket, hung it on the headboard, rolled up his shirtsleeves and set to work.
It took them half an hour to shift the accumulated detritus of Jack’s long life and reach the old wardrobe, stacked on top of an equally old sideboard. Jack found precarious footholds on some of the surrounding furniture, levering himself up to reach the top of the wardrobe and fumbling around there until, with a cry of triumph, he successfully snagged hold of what he wanted. After a few minutes of strenuous effort, he succeeded in dragging it from its hiding place, but the extra weight overbalanced him and flailing wildly, he all but fell into Ianto’s arms. For several long moments, Ianto was too busy trying to keep them both from winding up in an undignified heap on the floor with a pile of furniture on top of them to really look at Jack’s prize; when he finally did he was torn between abject horror and helpless laughter.
“What the…? Jack, that’s not a suitcase, it’s a bloody antique! It’ll never survive in the hold of a plane!”
“Pessimist! It may be old, but it was made to last, like me!” So saying, Jack plucked his dusty suitcase up by its handle, listing slightly to one side due to the weight of it, and stalked past Ianto, taking his luggage out to the SUV and locking it securely in the boot before returning to help Ianto put all the displaced junk back in the lock-up.
Putting everything back was even more exhausting than getting it all out had been, but they got it done in near silence, not wanting to waste breath on talking. At long last, hot, sweaty, and very grimy, they headed back to the Hub and made a beeline for the shower, leaving Jack’s hastily dusted suitcase in his quarters. Jack proclaimed that it just needed a thorough clean before use, and that he’d see to it once he’d freshened up. Personally, Ianto thought it would have been more sensible to clean the suitcase first, because the state it was in, Jack would need another shower afterwards, but he chose not to say anything. If Jack felt anywhere near as sticky and disgusting as he himself did, Ianto could understand his lover putting comfort ahead of practicality.
The shower was pure bliss, and it did wonders for Ianto’s mood. By the time he’d towelled himself dry and dressed in clean clothes, his earlier exasperation with Jack had vanished, washed away down the drain along with all the muck. In fact he was feeling so much more benevolent towards his lover that he even provided a pile of rags and some leather polish so Jack could lavish attention on the battered object he called a suitcase. Then he sat down with a cup of coffee to watch. Jack could get filthy again if he wanted; it didn’t mean Ianto had to as well.
Draining half his coffee in one gulp, Jack settled in to his task. The first thing he did was to wipe over the outside of the case with a damp cloth to remove the worst of the dirt, then dry it thoroughly; the second thing he did was open the suitcase…
“Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to empty it before bringing it back here?” Ianto asked mildly.
“I’d forgotten there was stuff in it.” Jack admitted, poking at the contents.
“The weight of it didn’t give you a clue?”
“It’s a good, solid piece of luggage; bound to have a bit of weight to it.” Jack started to empty the suitcase, which seemed to be full of military memorabilia and assorted papers.
Ianto, being the thoughtful chap he was, fetched a couple of boxes for Jack to put everything in. It smelled strongly of mothballs. “You should probably air it out to get rid of the smell,” he suggested, helpful as always.
“Mm. I’m sure it’ll be fine in a few days.” Picking up the polish, Jack set to work with gusto and a lot of elbow grease; as years’ worth of grime was polished away, Ianto had to admit the case was starting to look much better. At least it was until the hinges snapped and the lid fell off. “Ah!” Jack stared in shock.
“Oh dear. That could be a problem.” Ianto resolutely did not so much as crack a smile. It almost killed him, but he also refrained from saying ‘I told you so.’ It would have been cruel in light of the tragic expression on Jack’s face.
“Don’t worry, there are people who restore old bags and cases, you know,” Ianto informed Jack. “When we get back from our holiday we’ll get it repaired and made as good as new; it just needs a bit more TLC than we have time for right now.”
Jack smiled gratefully up at him. “Thank you; I’ve had this a long time and we’ve been though a lot together.” He frowned. “But now I don’t have a case for our holiday!”
“We’d better get you a new one then, hadn’t we? Airlines have weight limits for luggage anyway; your suitcase probably would have exceeded them, and think of how scratched it would have got, tossed around by overworked baggage handlers. Lightweight samsonite, that’s the ticket; solid stuff with wheels and a pulling handle, much easier than lugging a heavy case through airports, in and out of taxis and so on.”
Jack nodded. “I suppose you’re right; modern luggage is better suited for air travel.”
Jack’s new suitcase was all Ianto said it would be, and held a lot more than his old case would have, easily enough for their fortnight’s holiday in Florida. Jack was so excited about going to Disney World.
The vacation was everything they could have wished for, each day packed with adventure and sightseeing, and every night packed with… more adult activities, but all too soon they were on the plane headed home.
“We’ll have to go back there again someday,” Jack said wistfully.
“Yes, I think there were a couple of rides you didn’t get to try,” Ianto replied, amused. Jack had made a concerted effort to go on every ride that wasn’t restricted to children. Following him through Cinderella’s Castle had been quite an experience; he’d been totally star-struck by the Disney Princesses, filled with more childlike wonder than many of the children. He’d also flirted outrageously with Donald Duck, Pluto, and Mickey Mouse, but Ianto had more or less forgiven him for that by now.
“I had to leave something for next time.”
“Of course you did.” Ianto rolled his eyes good-naturedly.
Disembarking in Cardiff was mildly chaotic, but they made it through the milling crowds to the luggage carousel, waiting patiently until Jack spotted his new blue case, now adorned with dozens of stickers and a Cinderella luggage label. Of Ianto’s faithful, unadorned black case, there was no sign.
“I can’t believe they lost my luggage!” Ianto exclaimed for the umpteenth time as they drove back to his flat after reporting it.
“They’ll keep looking for it, I’m sure it’ll turn up soon.” Jack patted Ianto’s knee reassuringly. “It can’t have gone far, it probably just got put on the wrong plane.”
“Yeah, I guess so. They said they’ll forward it to Cardiff when they find it.”
“Of course they will.”
Only, they didn’t. Repeated phone enquiries over the next two or three weeks got the same answer. “We’re still looking for your case, Mr. Jones. Sorry it’s taking so long, but I’m sure it’ll turn up soon.”
“Look on the bright side; at least it got lost on the way home rather than on the way out, so you didn’t have to buy new clothes and everything while we were in Florida.”
But the weeks turned into months, and still no case. Eventually, it was declared completely lost, and Ianto was sent compensation, which Jack thought was kind of the airline. Ianto thought it was only fair that they paid for what they’d lost, but the complimentary tickets for a weekend away were a nice touch. Jack bought Ianto a new, bright red case for that trip.
Time passed, as time always does, and one day, about a month before they were due to go on holiday again, Ianto responded to a Rift alert just off the Plas while the rest of the team were elsewhere. Tracking the coordinates, he turned a corner and there, sitting beside a dustbin, was a battered but vaguely familiar black samsonite case on wheels, it’s outside covered in overlapping stickers. He waved his scanner over it, checking for Rift energy and confirming that this was what he was looking for. Shrugging, he grabbed it by the handle and dragged it across the Plas, taking it down into the Hub via the invisible lift.
When Jack arrived back alone, having sent the others home early, he found Ianto sitting on the sofa with an open suitcase before him.
“Packing already? We don’t leave for over three weeks.”
“Not packing; unpacking.” Ianto gestured to the case. “There was a Rift alert, and this is what came though.”
“Not just any suitcase; it’s my suitcase, the one that got lost last year.”
“You’re sure? It doesn’t look like yours.”
“Definitely mine.” Ianto held up the red dragon boxers that Jack had bought him for Christmas one year.
“Huh.” Jack sat down beside Ianto and studied the case. There were a few stickers in earth languages, but the majority were from a bit further afield; the Pleiades Resort and Spa, Orion VII, Beachworld, New Tokyo, several from the Vegas Galaxy, Bontemps Zoological Gardens on Alpha Centauri Prime, Oodlafrinch, Nueva Patagonia, Astra Major, Zilbit Minor, Igglepip, the Lost Moon of Poosh, Thula, and Zilch among them. “Looks like it’s done the galactic tour!”
“I feel a bit slighted,” Ianto admitted. “I’ve been here working for over ten months while my suitcase has been exploring the universe without me.”
Jack smiled. “One day we’ll leave earth and I’ll take you to see all those places,” he promised. “And when we do, we’ll take this case with us and use it as our road map.”