Characters: Ianto, Jack, mentions Rhiannon.
Word Count: 2078
Summary: It’s date night, but Jack needs to borrow an important piece of clothing from Ianto…
Written For: Challenge 194: Toes at fan_flashworks. Also fits 94: Footwear & 112: Stripes.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“Iantooooo!” Jack’s plaintive voice reached Ianto’s ears even over the sound of the shower, and despite the bathroom door being closed. He ignored it; whatever it was, Jack would just have to wait until he’d finished his shower, because unlike Jack, he’d never make himself heard from in here. He had no intention of getting out until he was thoroughly clean; they’d both got seriously messy chasing that alien through the city dump and Ianto preferred not to stink of garbage on a date night. He knew from prior experience that it tended to spoil the mood. He was blissfully massaging shampoo into his hair when the bathroom door opened.
“Ianto?” Apparently Jack wasn’t going to let him finish his shower in peace.
“What is it, Jack?”
“I don’t have any clean socks here and it’s cold out. My toes will freeze and fall off without them!” Jack sounded so mournful that Ianto was glad his lover couldn’t see his face as he desperately tried not to laugh. Under other circumstances, he might have suggested that Jack put the pair he’d been wearing back on again, but they were supposed to be going out for dinner and he didn’t think the restaurant’s other patrons would find the ripe spell wafting from Jack’s feet too appealing.
“There should be some new ones in the bottom drawer of the dresser; help yourself to a pair,” Ianto told him. “I expect to find you fully dressed by the time I get out of here; I know how long you take to get ready and we don’t want to be late for our reservation this time. We’re lucky Alfredo let us re-book after not showing up last time.”
“That was totally not our fault. I was dead and in pieces.”
“Yes, but we could hardly tell Alfredo that, could we? Now shut the door behind you; you’re letting the steam out into the rest of the flat.”
“Oops, sorry.” Ianto heard the clunk of the bathroom door closing and sighed with relief. How did Jack manage to turn the smallest thing into a crisis of epic proportions? Toes freeze and fall off? Not likely. It was chilly out but not that cold, hardly the weather for frostbite. Besides, if they did fall off Jack would just grow a new set… The image that popped into Ianto’s mind of new toes sprouting from the ends of Jack’s feet was a bit disturbing, so he concentrated on washing his hair instead.
Ten minutes later, when Ianto left the bathroom, he found Jack fully dressed, wearing a smart suit and shiny shoes rather than his usual World War II era clothing. Alfredo was rather particular about proper attire, so if they wanted to eat at his restaurant even Jack had to adhere to the strict dress code.
“How do I look?” Jack did a little twirl to show off the dark blue single-breasted suit from all sides.
Ianto smiled approvingly. “Pardon the pun, but it suits you. You should wear a suit more often.”
“Maybe I could be persuaded to get all dressed up if you took me out to dinner at fancy restaurants more often,” Jack teased.
“And maybe I’d do that if you got all your paperwork done on time more often without being nagged. You deserve a reward for that, even if it has ended up being a bit delayed.” Ianto was getting dressed as he spoke, aware of the way Jack’s eyes followed his every movement.
“How do you do that so fast?” Jack finally asked as Ianto put on and tied his tie in less than thirty seconds.
“Practice,” Ianto smirked in reply. “When you’ve tied a tie as often as I have… My hands know how it’s done so I let them get on with it; I hardly have to think about it these days.”
“Huh. Took me five minutes to get mine right and it’s still a bit wonky. Fix it for me?”
“It looks fine, Jack.”
Sighing, Ianto slipped into his jacket and went to fix Jack’s tie. Not that it really needed it. He suspected it was just an excuse to get a bit of personal attention.
Despite being dressed differently, Jack still wore his familiar coat; it was cold enough out to need one, and it was the only overcoat he owned. Besides, it made him look dashing, and it would be hung in the cloakroom during their meal anyway. Alfredo could hardly complain about that.
They took Ianto’s car, parking in the restaurant’s own small car park, and hurried inside. Ianto was relieved to find they were fifteen minutes early, so they had time for an aperitif at the bar before their table was ready.
Dinner was a leisurely affair, with starters, a main course, and a truly decadent dessert, although afterwards Ianto could barely remember what he’d eaten. Naturally Jack was to blame for that; he’d played footsie with Ianto beneath the table throughout the entire meal. He must have kicked off a shoe, because Ianto had felt Jack’s toes rubbing first against his ankles, then up the insides of his legs, all without Jack faltering in either eating or conversation. Ianto was grateful the restaurant tables were large enough that Jack’s agile toes couldn’t reach further than just above his knees. Or maybe he was disappointed; it was so difficult to be sure of his own feelings in these kinds of situations. Relieved probably, he decided. If those toes had crept much higher he might have embarrassed himself and then they’d surely be banned from Alfredo’s for life, which would be a shame, because even if he couldn’t remember it as clearly as he’d like, the food had been excellent.
Waiting to collect their coats, Ianto spared a brief glance towards Jack’s feet, and of course Jack noticed, judging by his smirk and wink. Ianto resisted the temptation to roll his eyes, turning away instead to accept their coats from the cloakroom attendant.
Outside it was colder than it had been earlier, frost starting to form on the ground and the cars in the car park, so they hurried to Ianto’s Audi and were soon on their way back to Ianto’s flat, the car’s heater keeping them warm during the half hour drive back to central Cardiff.
“Were you trying to get us kicked out of the restaurant?” Ianto asked mildly as he drove.
“No one could see. I thought you were enjoying it,” Jack replied innocently.
He had been, but he wasn’t about to admit that to Jack. He’d take it as encouragement and next time they went out to dinner there’d be no stopping him. “I was trying to enjoy the food, but your toes kept distracting me.”
“Well, we’ll just have to eat there again, won’t we?” Ianto didn’t need to look at Jack’s face; the smirk was right there in his voice.
“That goes without saying, but perhaps next time you can refrain from playing footsie, at least until we get to the coffee.”
“I just think if I’m paying that much for a meal I should at least have some memory of it afterwards. My overriding memory of tonight is of your toes creeping up my calf.”
Jack threw back his head and laughed. “I must’ve been doing it right then!”
“Twpsyn,” Ianto accused good-naturedly.
“I didn’t hear you complaining earlier.”
“Of course not, that would’ve drawn attention to what you were doing.”
Pulling into his parking spot in front of the converted house he lived in, Ianto switched off the engine. “Are you coming up?”
“Do you want me to?”
“Unless there’s somewhere else you absolutely have to be. It’s very bad manners to play footsie with someone all evening and then not follow through,” Ianto teased.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to appear rude…” Jack trailed off, grinning, and followed Ianto into the building, taking the stairs two at a time so he reached the door to Ianto’s flat before Ianto did.
“What’re you waiting outside for?” Ianto asked as he joined his lover on the top landing. “You’ve got a key.”
“Left it at the Hub.”
“Typical.” Ianto unlocked the door and entered, pulling his shoes off and putting them on the rack, not even glancing back at Jack as he headed for the kitchen. “Coffee?”
“Do you really need to ask?”
“I suppose not; the day you say ‘no’ to coffee will be the day the world ends, but it’s polite to ask rather than just assuming.”
Removing his shoes and setting them beside Ianto’s, Jack padded after his lover into the kitchen, leaning against the breakfast bar as Ianto set the coffee brewing. Turning away to fetch mugs from the mug rack, from the corner of his eye Ianto caught sight of a splash of brilliant colour against the black floor tiles and he paused, glancing down.
“Jack, what on earth have you got on your feet?” Ianto couldn’t stop staring; Jack’s size eleven feet were resplendent in bright multicoloured horizontal stripes. “Are they toe socks?”
“You told me I could wear a pair of new socks from your bottom drawer. They were all boring black though, but then I found these stuffed right at the back!” Jack was beaming happily as he raised one foot for Ianto to admire. “I couldn’t resist. They’re really cosy. Aren’t they brilliant?”
That much Ianto had to agree with, brilliant as in eye-wateringly dazzling. Ianto blinked, remembering Rhi’s gag gift to him a few years back of stripy socks with toes. He’d thought them hilariously hideous, but somehow had never quite been able to throw them out, remembering how much he and his sister had laughed when he’d opened the gift. Now here they were again, on Jack’s feet, each toe a different colour, all of them clashing horribly with each other. Bright red, orange, lime green, vivid pink, turquoise, yellow, purple…
Ianto looked from Jack’s feet to his lover’s wide, delighted smile, and started to laugh.
Jack’s smile faded to a look of hurt. “What’s funny?”
“I’m sorry, Jack, I was just remembering when Rhi gave them to me; it wasn’t long after Lisa’s death, and Rhi was desperate to cheer me up so she kept buying me silly little gifts, trying to get a smile out of me. Nothing really worked until she presented me with those socks. We were wearing them on our hands, doing this sort of sock-puppet thing with them… I hadn’t laughed so much in a long time. We called them the Toesies and spent all afternoon giggling like a couple of kids, making them talk in silly voices.”
“I didn’t know.” Jack looked stricken. “I probably should’ve asked before putting them on. They were so different from the other socks in the drawer, I should’ve realised they were special, but they were so bright and cheerful, and they looked so warm…”
“No, it’s fine, cariad, I don’t need them anymore, they served their purpose and I still have the memories. They fit you and you like them, so I think you should keep them.”
“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to deprive you of your special socks.”
“You’re not. They look a lot better on you than they would on me. You have the right sort of toes for toe socks.”
“Thank you.” Jack padded over to kiss Ianto. “I love them. I’ll take very good care of them and only wear them for best. I didn’t even know socks with toes were a thing. They’re like gloves for feet! I wonder if I could get some more… Wouldn’t it be great if I could have a pair for every day of the week? They’re perfect for cold winter weather.”
Ianto almost groaned aloud but managed to stifle the urge; he could see it now, a drawer filled to the brim with multicoloured toe socks, and knowing how haphazard Jack could be, they’d probably always be mismatched. No one else would know, but he’d always be aware that inside Jack’s sturdy boots, his toes were wiggling around in their dazzling individual coverings. Oh well, if it made him happy, what was the harm? Surely only Jack would be so totally enamoured of such ridiculous things.
On the other hand, if his memory served, and he was pretty sure it did, toe socks were far better for playing footsie than regular socks… Further experimentation might be in order.