Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Summary: After a busy afternoon enjoying themselves, maybe it’s time for Jack and Ianto to slow down a little.
Word Count: 2156 words
Written For: Week Three prompts ‘Salt, Snack, Dreaming,’ at torchwood_fest.
Beta: My lovely friend milady_dragon. Thanks so much for being my beta again!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
The afternoon seemed to have flown by as they’d ridden a well-marked route led by a guide, also on horseback, who’d pointed out things of interest as they’d passed. There’d even been a brisk canter along one stretch of beach, keeping to the firmer sand at the water’s edge, the horses’ hooves kicking up spray and moistening their trouser legs. By the time they completed the circuit and returned their horses to the stable yard, it was getting on towards early evening, although it would still be light for a few hours yet.
Dismounting, Ianto hit the ground and winced at the pain in certain areas of his anatomy. “Ow!” He threw a sheepish look Jack’s way. “Saddle sore. I’d forgotten about that aspect of riding,” he admitted.
Jack swung down from the saddle to join him, moving rather awkwardly too. “We’re out of practice, that’s all. Bound to be a bit sore to start with; it’ll soon wear off.”
“Not too sure about that,” Ianto said with a wry smile. “I feel like I’ve been moulded to fit the shape of my horse; my legs might stay like this permanently.”
“That could be interesting,” Jack teased. “Opens up all kinds of possibilities.” Ianto didn’t have to look at him to know that he was smirking. “Don’t worry about it; I’m just as bow-legged as you are.”
“Difference is, you’ll be back to normal inside an hour,” Ianto grumbled. “I’ll be swaggering like a cowboy for days!”
“Never underestimate a good swagger. It’s a sexy look on you.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “You think everything’s sexy.”
“Only when it applies to you,” Jack assured him.
“Whatever.” Ianto feigned disinterest, but he was smiling.
Digging in his pocket, Jack pulled out the slightly wilted carrot he’d saved at lunch and offered Ianto half for his horse, a light roan appropriately named Sandy, before feeding the rest to Copper, the bright chestnut gelding he’d been riding.
“We should come back tomorrow. The more we ride, the less uncomfortable we’ll be afterwards.”
“What about all the other things you wanted to do? If we’re always riding there won’t be time for anything else.”
“Mm, that’s true.” Jack’s forehead creased up into a frown.
“Anyway, it’s going to take me a couple of days at least to recover enough to get back in the saddle again, so if you want to ride tomorrow you’ll be doing it alone.”
“Fine, so we’ll try something else tomorrow.” Jack gave Copper a final pat before steering Ianto out of the stable yard, both of them doing the cowboy swagger. “Any preferences?”
“Didn’t you want to do that nature walk?”
“Oooh, that’s right, I forgot about that! And then afterwards we can try an art class so we can sit down for a while. We’ll need it after all that walking.” Jack checked his watch. “I know we were going to do that today, but the ride was longer than I’d expected so we’re a bit late; it’s not really worth going for the last half hour. How about we get a cold drink instead and relax in the shade for a bit?”
“Suits me,” Ianto agreed. “I’m parched; hungry too, seems like lunch was hours ago. That’s another thing I’d forgotten about riding; it works up an appetite.”
“Drinks and snacks; sounds good. D’you want to go back to the restaurant, or try somewhere else?”
“How about we go to that bar we rode past earlier? The one at the far end of the bay, with the wide veranda overlooking the beach. If I remember right, it has padded chairs.”
“Ah, good thinking; comfort is important, and the walk might help to ease the stiffness from riding.” Jack changed direction, following a footpath that led down to the beach and they fell silent as they made their way across the sand to the water’s edge, where they pulled their trainers and socks off so they could paddle in the sea, cooling their feet.
Despite being thirsty, they were in no real hurry and as the bar was only a short distance down the beach, they came abreast of it in less than fifteen minutes. Leaving the cool water of the bay behind, they stumbled and slithered across hot, dry, shifting sand, the loose grains clotting on their wet feet, until they reached the wide, wooden steps leading up to the bar’s veranda. Brushing the worst of the sand off, they climbed the steps and entered the bar’s main room. It was shady inside and surprisingly cool considering the outside temperature. Overhead, a ceiling fan spun lazily, as if it couldn’t be bothered to make more of an effort, and the establishment’s patrons lounged casually on tall stools at the bar, and in the comfy chairs that were dotted about in groups between tubs filled with tropical plants.
After a quick visit to the men’s room to wash sand and horse off their hands, Jack and Ianto ambled over to the bar. Ianto perused the available snacks, while Jack ordered iced fruit juice in tall glasses, with slices of papaya and mango hooked over the sides, and jaunty cocktail umbrellas in bright colours sticking out of the tops. To go with their drinks, Ianto got them a plate of moist little coconut cakes topped with slices of fresh fruit, and several bags of crisps, which were sitting rather incongruously in wicker baskets spaced along the top of the bar.
Taking everything over to a couple of vacant chairs in a corner, almost hidden amidst foliage, they lowered themselves carefully onto the cushions. Well, Ianto did, since he was still feeling sore from riding. Jack seemed to be almost fully recovered and Ianto felt a pang of envy. He knew being immortal had a lot of downsides, but the fast healing was something he would welcome most days.
Jack raised an eyebrow at Ianto’s choice of snacks. “Crisps? Seriously? We come to a tropical island and you buy crisps?”
“They’re salty, and after all that exercise in the heat, I for one need to replenish my sodium levels. And anyway, when did you ever say no to a bag of crisps?”
“I wasn’t turning them down, I just thought they were an odd choice, that’s all.”
Ianto shrugged. “They were right there on the bar, and I got us some tropical-flavoured snacks too, so don’t criticise,” he said primly.
“Wasn’t.” Jack stuck his tongue out at Ianto and snagged a bag of cheese and onion crisps, tearing it open and cramming a handful in his mouth.
“Nice table manners. And don’t try to speak,” Ianto added quickly, forestalling his lover. “I have no desire to be showered with crisp crumbs.” Opening a packet of salt and vinegar, Ianto popped a single crisp in his mouth, crunched it up, and washed it down with a drink of fruit juice, managing to avoid getting poked in the eye by a cocktail umbrella. “Mm, that’s nice and tart.” To his mind, one of the best things about being on a tropical island was the abundance of fresh and exotic fruits and juices. “Very refreshing.”
Jack swallowed his mouthful of crisps and sampled the juice himself. “Mmmmm, just the thing on a hot day.” He plucked a cake from the plate and shoved the whole thing in his mouth at once, winking at Ianto, who just looked back at him, singularly unimpressed.
“I keep hoping that one of these days you’ll learn to eat in a less disgusting manner,” he sighed. “You’re not fit to be seen in polite company.”
Looking contrite, although Ianto couldn’t tell whether or not he really was, Jack picked up a second cake and took a modest bite out of it. “Is that better?”
“It would be, if you refrained from speaking with your mouth full.”
“These are good, you should try them.” Finishing the cake, Jack reached for a third one.
“I intend to, if there’s any left after I finish my crisps.”
“Is that your subtle way of asking me to eat more slowly?”
“No, it’s my subtle well of telling you that if you don’t leave half of those for me, I’ll go back to spending my holiday reading.”
“Wanna bet?” Ianto raised one eyebrow, fixing his lover with an inscrutable look, and Jack shivered despite the heat.
“No, I don’t think so; I’d probably lose.”
“You know, we could just get a second plateful of cakes,” Jack suggested.
“We could, but I don’t want to spoil my appetite for dinner by eating too much now.”
“Ah, right. So, not to change the subject, but what d’you want to do after we finish our snacks?”
“Hmmmm.” Ianto cocked his head to one side, considering. “Why don’t we head back to our cabana and go for a swim in the sea? Then we can have a siesta before going out for dinner at one of the other restaurants, and see where the evening takes us from there.”
“I do like the way you think.” Jack beamed across at Ianto.
“Thought you might.” Ianto sounded positively smug.
They didn’t rush through their snacks; even Jack slowed right down, sipping his drink and taking three or four bites per cake. Even so, half an hour later everything was gone, including the second round of drinks Jack had fetched. Ianto was so relaxed he was half asleep and yawning.
“Looks like you need to have your siesta before we go for that swim,” Jack teased.
“I wouldn’t say no,” Ianto replied through a half-stifled yawn. “Must be all the fresh air making me sleepy.” Hauling himself from his chair, he led the way out onto the veranda and flopped into one of the chairs out there, using his socks and hands to brush the rest of the sand from earlier off his feet, before putting both socks and trainers back on for the walk back to where they’d left their golf cart.
“Don’t know why you’re bothering; why not leave your feet bare? I am. We can shower when we get back to the cabana.”
Ianto shrugged. “Suit yourself, but it’s not all soft beach sand between here and the parking lot.” Standing up, Ianto dusted off his hands. “Ready?”
“Yep! I was just waiting for you.”
Hand in hand, with Jack carrying his shoes and socks in his free hand, they started to retrace their steps, strolling back along the beach and from there, onto the footpath past the stables and out onto the roadway. Jack hadn’t gone more than a few steps on the paved surface before he started hopping from foot to foot, yelping.
Ianto just laughed. “I did try to warm you,” he smirked as Jack hotfooted it off the roadway and sat down on the ground to put his socks and shoes on over his slightly singed feet. Jack just pouted up at him.
Once Jack had something between his tender soles and the hot road surface, the rest of the walk proved uneventful and they were soon back at the restaurant where they’d had lunch several hours earlier. Jack unplugged the charging cord from their buggy and climbed in beside Ianto, starting the little vehicle up and steering them out onto the road.
Ten minutes later found them pulling into the driveway of their cabana, Jack parking the buggy in a little purpose-built recharging bay around the side of their holiday home that Ianto hadn’t realised was there.
“I found it when I was exploring this morning,” Jack explained. “It’s what made me look into hiring transportation. Well, that and the leaflet I found on the kitchen counter.”
“I didn’t see any leaflet.”
“You wouldn’t have; I took it with me. It had a map and directions to the rental office on it. So, siesta or swim?”
“Siesta for me.” Ianto yawned again. “You can do whatever you like, but I need a nap.” He meandered around the side of the cabana to the beach and made his way to his lounger, still sitting in the shade where he’d left it, flaking out on it bonelessly. “Wake me in an hour or so?”
“If I’m awake then myself,” Jack agreed, dropping a quick kiss on Ianto’s lips before stretching out on the other lounger. “Think I’ll join you for a Siesta; we can have a swim after, then shower to wash the salt off before we go to dinner.”
The only reply from Ianto was a faint snore; he was already asleep, mouth slightly open and one arm dangling off the side of the lounger. Jack couldn’t help the soppy smile that spread across his face at the sight.
“Sweet dreams, sweet prince,” he murmured, and he sprawled on his side, watching Ianto, until he too nodded off, dreaming of the two of them spending the rest of their lives in this island paradise.
The End… Or is it?
A/N: If anyone has ideas for further chapters, leave them as comments. If I get enough good ideas that I think I can work with, I might be persuaded to continue the story when time allows.