Jack is practically skipping behind Ianto. Seriously. He's walking at an upbeat tempo, very nearly hopping from foot to foot. It is one hundred percent ridiculous. It is also, though Ianto would never in his life admit it, quite adorable.
It had been a short, easy day today, with the Rift only acting up twice, spitting out the front and rear end of a 1946 Triumph Roadster. It doesn't seem to bother Jack one bit that it's ripped clean in half. In fact, he had gushed to Ianto for three hours about how he's going to fix it. Ianto has no idea how Jack plans to do that, but he fully expects Jack will destroy his Archives just to find the right alien tool. Ianto can't find it in his heart to tell Jack that the car is rubbish, because clearly, judging by the almost-skipping, Jack thinks it's wonderful.
Right now, though, Jack is not tearing the Archives apart and Ianto is likewise not crushing Jack's spirit. Instead, they're walking to Ianto's car, off to enjoy the rest of the day away from Torchwood. Just like today, the Rift has been lenient the past four days, and will be for the next three. The next Rift alert is scheduled for midday tomorrow, and yesterday was completely free. Ianto, for once, took the day off, and is doing so again.
Ianto unlocks his car, and Jack zooms into the passenger seat while Ianto, who still has some dignity, enters the car like a normal person. Jack drums his fingers on his legs impatiently as Ianto calmly puts his keys in the ignition and starts the car.
"Baby beluga in the deep blue sea, swim so wild and you swim so fr-"
Ianto hastily ejects the CD and chucks it unceremoniously into the back of the car. He closes his eyes, sets his hands knees, elbows locked, and stays tense like that for a few moments, holding his breath. Where is that dignity now? Slowly letting out the breath, he blinks his eyes open at the car park in front of him. He stiffly turns to Jack, who looks like he's trying very, very hard not to laugh.
"So," Jack says, his voice wavering slightly as the mirth seeps through.
"I was babysitting for my sister yesterday," Ianto mutters. "Gwen gave me the CD. Told me Raffi is the secret to keeping kids quiet."
"And how did that work for you?"
"It didn't," Ianto replies stiltedly.
They sit there for a minute longer, Ianto trying hard to reclaim some of his pride and Jack shaking with the attempts to keep the laughter in. Ianto has just started pulling out of the car park when Jack makes him feel even worse.
"Aren't Gwen's nieces two and four?"
Ianto keeps his eyes focused on the road. "Yes."
"And how old are your niece and nephew?"
"Six and nine," he says through clenched teeth.
Jack doesn't bother containing his laughter this time, and it takes him a rather long time to stop. Ianto is reconsidering this whole taking-Jack-home-and-shagging-him-silly plan when suddenly he cuts short. Ianto doesn't question why; he's only thankful for some peace and quiet.
When he is halfway to his flat, the silence is just unnerving.
"What is it?" he sighs.
Jack does not respond at first, so Ianto wonders if this is another one of those broody moments that just come out of nowhere. It doesn't much matter to Ianto, who's dealt with these many times before and will gladly take one now, so he can work at saving some face.
As it turns out, it's not brooding.
"What's a beluga?"
Ianto shoots him a glare.
"Haha," he grumbles. "That's it, make fun of Ianto. It's not like he's driving the car or taking you home, or anything."
"No," Jack says slowly. "I really mean it. What the hell is a beluga?"
The genuine curiosity in his tone is what makes Ianto believe him.
"You... don't know what a beluga is?" Ianto asks.
Jack shakes his head.
"You really don't know?"
Now Jack frowns. "Yeah. What are they?"
It's Ianto's turn to laugh. Hard.
"I'm serious!" Jack cries indignantly.
"What, you can laugh at me, but I can't laugh at you?"
Jack gives him a look that clearly states, yes, he can, and no, Ianto can't.
"Nearly a century and a half here, and you don't know what a beluga is!" Ianto cackles.
"Watch the road," Jack snaps.
Ianto shakes his head, certain that his dignity is fully restored, now that he has the upper hand.
"Look," Jack says after a period of silence. "Can you just tell me what a beluga is?"
"It's a whale," Ianto says, not bothering to keep the smugness off his face. "A white whale."
"So... like Moby Dick."
"No. That was a sperm whale. Belugas are completely different."
"Moby Dick, the sperm whale."
"You are so immature."
"And you wouldn't have me any other way."
Ianto gives a long sigh and says nothing more.
At the flat, thoughts of Raffi and whales are no longer on Ianto's mind as he plans to do exactly what he's been waiting to do since he woke up this morning: shag Jack Harkness. Jack, as it seems, has other ideas, because he ducks out of the first kiss and snatches Ianto's bag, pulling out the laptop. Ianto can only stare as Jack makes his way to the couch, plopping onto it and opening the laptop. Stunned, Ianto follows his lead, still staring at him as he types away.
"That's an alien," Jack says, matter-of-fact.
"What?" Ianto asks dazedly. He's still stuck on the fact that Jack doesn't want sex.
"That," Jack says, tapping the laptop. A picture of a beluga fills the entirety of the screen. "It's an alien."
Ianto blinks. "Really?"
"It's gotta be," Jack says. "That doesn't look like it came from Earth."
"Okay, just because you didn't know about it..."
"It's an alien," Jack repeats, not sounding like he's convincing even himself.
Ianto takes the laptop from his hands, closes it, and sets it on the floor. Jack barely seems aware of it, continuing to frown perplexedly down at where the computer used to be. Ianto sinks further into the couch and swings his legs over Jack's, and suddenly (finally), Jack grins, and they move onto a very different topic.
If Ianto thinks for a moment that that's the end of the whole beluga affair, then he's severely mistaken.
The next morning is filled with some rather interesting and innovative activities, and Ianto prides himself on his excellent performances. Jack seems a bit distracted, but that's fine. Ianto doesn't even care that the Rift activity comes an hour and a half ahead of schedule.
It's just a spaceship coming through. Jack politely tells the Carthy that they're fine, and that they've simply been misplaced, and it'll only take them twelve light years to get back on their course. He doesn't mention that they're also two years into the future, but Ianto expects they'll find that out for themselves soon enough. Ianto takes off soon after, with plans to do some laundry. He says goodbye to Jack in his office, and heads home.
When he opens the door to his flat, Jack is already there, laying spread-eagle on his back in the middle of Ianto's living room and staring blankly at the ceiling. Ianto's about to ask him how he got here before Ianto did and also what the hell he's doing. Before he can do that, he catches the music, and he rolls his eyes. Then he frowns.
"Where is that playing from?" Ianto asks, looking around the room.
Jack lifts his left arm up, displaying his vortex manipulator, and then drops it pathetically back to the floor with a thump.
"Are you really having this many problems with this?" Ianto asks incredulously.
Jack nods, his head moving up and down in time with the music.
"-heaven above and the sea below-"
"It's just a whale."
Jack continues to stare at the ceiling as the song loops and starts over from the beginning.
If Jack was distracted this morning, he's definitely out of it tonight. Ianto sleeps alone as Jack paces around his flat. After three hours without any sleep due to the incessant stomping, Ianto banishes him from the flat, and Jack leaves to go stand on some tall building or another. He comes back at six in the morning still absent from reality.
That morning's Rift activity requires a lot more focus and effort, because they're chasing a Hoix all the way through Splott. Then they chase a Weevil all the way back. Ianto somehow manages to fit them both into the SUV, but it means that Gwen has to share the back seat with the Weevil. She's not happy about it, to say the least.
As they're nearing the Hub, Ianto catches Jack humming to himself.
"Oh, for fuck's sake," Ianto sighs. "Is that all you can think about anymore?"
"What's wrong?" Gwen calls from the back.
"Jack's lost it," Ianto responds. "Belugas have done him in."
"Oh, you used my CD, then!"
"Yeah. Did nothing for the kids, but it seems to work on Jack."
Jack doesn't say anything, but Ianto can still hear him humming under his breath.
That night, Jack does sleep with him, but that's all they do. No sex. Ianto is worried they won't have any more before the Rift picks up again. He falls asleep wondering if he'll ever have sex with Jack again. Yes, it's incredibly dramatic of him. He has time to hate himself for that in the morning.
Jack isn't in bed anymore when Ianto wakes up. Ianto isn't surprised, and he wonders to himself where Jack is brooding as he pulls on his bathrobe. The scent of food answers his questions. Ianto shuffles out into the kitchen, where Jack is making pancakes.
"Out of your mood, then?" Ianto asks as he wraps his arms around Jack's waist.
Ianto sees the shape of the pancake and exhales a deep, long sigh. Then he collects himself and smiles wryly at Jack.
"Didn't know you could make pancake animals."
"I couldn't," Jack says. He points to the kitchen bin.
Ianto doesn't have to open it to know there's plenty of misshapen beluga whale pancakes in there.
"A blueberry for the eye," he remarks, not knowing what else to say.
"I know," Jack says, grinning. "Isn't it brilliant?"
As quietly as he can, Ianto phones Gwen. He's doing this out of love, he thinks to himself, not because he's in desperate need of a shag. Love, not sex. Love.
Two hours later, Ianto and Gwen corner Jack in his office.
"We're concerned," Gwen starts. "You've been a bit... off lately, and we're worried about how it's affecting you."
"You're too bloody obsessed with belugas."
Gwen glares hard at Ianto, before turning back to Jack and softening her gaze. "We just want to make sure you're alright."
"Guys," Jack laughs. "I'm fine."
"You don't seem fine."
Gwen discreetly kicks Ianto in the shin. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure!" Jack says. He puts his hands up in the air in mock-defense and grins. "I'm perfectly alright. Don't need to give me the third degree."
"We weren't," Gwen says quickly.
Jack laughs again, and then shoos them out of his office, claiming he has work to do.
When the Rift starts acting up the next day, Ianto has less time to spend with Jack, so he can't tell if this beluga fixation is still holding him hostage. Rift alert after Rift alert rings on his mobile, and he's all over Cardiff the next three days, cleaning messes, shooting things, and wrangling aliens. Mostly cleaning messes, though. He barely has time to sleep at night, so there's definitely no sex with Jack. Pity, that. Then again, he doesn't think his ego, while already small, could take being one-upped by a fucking whale.
The next week is a nightmare as the Rift continues to compensate for its mercy the week before, but it eventually dies down to a normal rate of alerts. Jack and Ianto have only had time to have a quick shag in the Archives once, and so Ianto is quite relived to find time to 'make love,' a term which he's never going to use again in his life. He's pretty sure Jack's forgotten the whole beluga thing by now, knock on wood.
Ianto is just about to enter Jack's office to toss out a few lewd suggestions (yes, he's that desperate), when the door opens in his face.
"Ianto!" Jack calls excitedly.
Jack's eyes are gleaming, and Ianto thanks the gods above for this. Finally, some real sex.
No such luck.
"Have you heard of pangolins?"
"Jack," Ianto says, struggling to keep his tone even. "Please, for the love of god-"
"I'm just kidding," Jack says, his face splitting into a wide grin as he laughs. "You should have seen yourself. Talk about looks that could kill!"
"The thought hasn't left my mind," Ianto mumbles darkly.
All animosity fades as Jack pulls him in for a long kiss. Embarrassingly, he finds himself sinking into the kiss. Has he turned into a teenage girl in the past two weeks? Oh, hell, who's he kidding; if Jack's going to kiss him like this, he'll be a teenage girl any time.
Ianto coughs lightly as he draws back. "So. No strange animals attracting your eye currently?"
"No," Jack says, pressing another quick kiss to Ianto's lips.
"Alright," Ianto says.
"Whatdya say we head home and-"
"Fuck each other's brains out?" Ianto finishes.
Jack's laugh rings through the Hub. "Oh, Ianto Jones, you certainly are a man after my own heart."
Ianto fights back a blush. Heart? Whatever, it's just a saying.
"I try my best. Sir."
Jack instantly goes slack-jawed, and Ianto takes his hand and starts to lead him out of the Hub.
They're almost to Ianto's car when curiosity gets the better of him.
"What was it about belugas, anyway?"
Jack sighs, and Ianto instantly regrets asking.
"Where I'm from," he says softly, and Ianto regrets it even more, "there's an aquatic creature called a gruda. It looks almost exactly like your beluga, only pink instead of white. Seeing the whale... brought back some memories."
"Oh," Ianto says.
"I can't believe I'd forgotten those," Jack says, mostly to himself. "I grew up right next to the water. I used to love watching them splash out in the ocean, near the horizon. I'd even tried to help one that had beached itself by accident."
Jack is lost in thought for a few paces, and Ianto wonders what else this gruda creature had meant to Jack. The thought is dispelled as Jack seemingly shakes himself from his own memories.
"Doesn't really matter now," he says brightly. "I've remembered, and I've got something to keep me remembering."
"You must think I'm selfish," Ianto says. "All this time, you're trying to remember something about your home, and I'm just trying to distract you for sex."
Jack whirls around, grabbing Ianto's biceps and stopping him short.
"Ianto Jones," he says solemnly. "Never apologize for trying to shag me."
The serious façade breaks from Jack's face, and Ianto rolls his eyes as Jack waggles his eyebrows.
"Daft idiot," Ianto snorts.
"Now, unless you're planning on some steaming car sex," Jack says in a suggestive tone, "I'd suggest you get us home."
Ianto breaks the speed limit in a way Jack thoroughly approves of.
Later that night, as they are curled up in Ianto's bed, something registers in his brain. Ianto rolls over in Jack's arms and plants a gentle kiss on his lips.
"What was that for?" Jack asks blearily.
"Nothing," Ianto says, stroking Jack's cheek lightly.
Ianto wonders when 'home' became Ianto's flat and not whatever planet Jack is from, but he's pretty sure belugas might have had something to do with it. Suddenly, he's very grateful it wasn't "Biscuits In the Oven" that was playing on the CD that day. Whatever revelation that would've sparked would not have been as perfect as this one.
As Jack drifts off, Ianto begins to sing quietly.
"When it's dark, and you're home and fed, curl up snug in your water bed. Moon is shining and the stars are out; good night, little whale, good night."
Jack sighs contentedly in his sleep, and Ianto smiles to himself as he buries his head into Jack's chest. Ianto's last sleepy thought that night is that he wouldn't trade these weeks for the world.