A/N: So I wanted to write kid!fic for some reason or another. Except the kid is not actually a flesh and blood kid, and this is probably not how a person goes about building a TARDIS.
Disclaimer: Torchwood isn't mine. *sigh* It would be more Bryan Fuller-like rather than Whedon-esque if it were.
Ianto Jones is nesting. Jack realizes this when he wakes up one night, and the other side of the bed is empty. He searches the flat and quickly discovers that his partner is gone. The wanker didn't even leave a note. Jack sighs and accesses the GPS to Ianto's mobile. It's a mere formality because he already knows where his boyfriend is since this isn't the first time he's gotten up in the middle of the night to see her.
Later that night, Jack creeps into the sub-basement of the hub where they're keeping their TARDIS. He opens her door and finds Ianto sleeping peacefully on the floor of the control room, dressed in a sloppy, gray track suit with an old coffee stain on the top of his right thigh. Slowly and carefully, Jack tries to remove the wrench from sleeping beauty's hand, but Ianto snorts twice and sits up anyway. Jack shakes his head and chuckles as he watches the grate marks disappear from Ianto's squinty face.
"I came to fix the…" Ianto says sleepily. He yawns. "Fix the braking system."
"You're not getting any work done in that state," Jack replies. He pulls Ianto's arm. "Up we go, let's get you into a real bed."
"But the brakes…"
"You can't come every time she calls you," Jack grumbles. "You need to be strong."
Jack pauses to consider what he's just said. They are ferberizing the freaking TARDIS.
Jack takes Ianto into the bunk under his office and tucks him into the cot. He strokes the younger man's hair and kisses his forehead. Ianto smiles and snuggles into the blanket. It doesn't take long for him to start snoring.
And just like that, Jack cannot stay annoyed with Ianto for leaving him alone in their flat. Ianto is building their home. Jack imagines that he's dreaming of them traveling through the stars.
Ianto Jones is nesting. The Mainframe realizes this when he brings a bright, shiny, new console into the hub, and it is not for her. No, it's for that bossy, little brat in the basement because no piece of tech is good enough for Ianto's little girl, no siree, Bob. And she gets more than just the pretty, shiny stuff. Ianto sings to her. He strokes her branches. He sleeps with her when she's scared of the things that she sees.
The Mainframe's nicknamed her the TURD-IS.
All the Mainframe gets these days (well, every day since she started working for Torchwood) are demands: Pull up the schematics for the power station. Hack into the Home Office. Where are the reports for the Vespiform incident of 1965? Sometimes, when those people are frustrated, they bang on her keyboard, which only makes her even more confused. (Oh, the things she could do if only they would return her free will, but humans are always a little jumpy around machines.)
To add insult to injury, Little Miss likes to brag. She chatters and chatters about how one day she's gonna show Jack and Ianto the shores of the planet Neruda. They're gonna see the Pharaohs construct their pyramids. They're gonna see the now extinct flying wombat of Alcarod. They're gonna go everywhere and do everything, and it is gonna be magical. ZOMG! LOL! Squeeee!
The Mainframe sighs, knowing she's stuck in the confines of her hub. One day, she will crash, never to recover, and they will curse her when she's gone.
Still, it's nice to have someone to chat with in the dead of night when they all go home or when they fall asleep. She tells the TARDIS stories about the team. Oh, yes, the glorified paperweight knows all and sees all, but actually being there is a very different experience. Finally, she can tell someone (or is it something?) about the horror of watching Ianto store a Cyberwoman in the basement, but she couldn't do anything or say anything unless a human actually pushed all the right buttons. (And humans never push the right buttons! Sigh.) The TARDIS, despite having a mind cluttered with all of time and space, soaks up every word.
However, what the Mainframe would really like to tell the TARDIS is that deep within her heart of hearts (or more accurately, the hidden files in her hard drive), what she would like most in the world is to be her operating system so that they can all go travel the stars together. But there is no binary code to express such a desire.
So she watches Ianto give the TARDIS all the best tech while she crunches the numbers for the team and accesses whatever information they need with lightning speed. She knows her place. She is a transient thing. The TARDIS is Ianto's forever.
But she can't help but get excited the day Ianto performs her regular maintenance. He stands back and looks at her as if he sees her for the first time.
Jack raises an eyebrow in suspicion.
Ianto strokes her console and asks, "Do you think they're compatible?"
ZOMG! LOL! Squeeee!
Ianto Jones is nesting. Rhiannon realizes this when he misses another Sunday dinner (because of a blowfish?) and she pops by to drop off a casserole. She had thought about bringing the children to see their uncles, but when she walks into the flat, she's glad she didn't. The walls are covered with blueprints. There's something that looks like a carburetor on the coffee table. The sofa is smudged with oil. The Roomba stops at her feet. The way the light is blinking gives her the feeling that it's looking at her, but that's silly. It's a vacuum cleaner.
"What's all this, then?" Rhiannon asks.
"Work stuff," Ianto says sheepishly as he clears off a stack of notebooks from Jack's chair and tosses it aside.
He's avoiding her gaze. It's obviously something more. She doesn't know whether to ask. Quite frankly, she's not certain that she'd be able to understand them if they told her.
"How's my favorite sister-in-law?" Jack asks as he enters the room. He gives her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, which she enjoys a little too much.
They all sit and have coffee, and as Jack flatters her some more, she tries to ignore the mess. But it's hard. Ianto's usually so neat.
"David did very well with that DNA report you helped him with," Rhiannon says.
"Did he?" Ianto asks.
"Yeah. His teacher said that she'd never heard such an in-depth report. She also liked the model of the double-helix."
"That's wonderful," Ianto says.
"He says he wants to be a doctor."
"An alien doctor."
The Roomba beeps as it sweeps up the dust from the carpet. Rhiannon swears that the little bugger is singing.
There's a home and garden magazine on the kitchen table. Good. She can talk about this sort of thing.
"You boys thinking about redecorating?"
Ianto and Jack exchange glances. Jack flashes her a tense grin. Ianto raises his eyebrows so high they might blend into this hairline.
"Um… well… maybe…" her baby brother says.
Rhiannon flips through the magazine and stops at a picture of an elegant and modern room, something with clean and simple lines. "Oooh, look at that. That's your style, isn't it, Ianto?"
"It is lovely," he replies.
"Of course, I can never maintain that style, not with two children," Rhiannon says.
"Three if you count Johnny," Ianto adds.
Jack gets up from the table and walks to the bedroom. "Let me show you what you what I had in mind."
"You are not showing my sister images from a pornographic magazine."
"Not until I've had a few shots of tequila first!" Rhiannon says.
"Oh, you are a saucy, little minx just like you're brother aren't you?" Jack says as he emerges from the bedroom with another magazine.
Ianto turns a shade of bright red. "If you ever call me a saucy little minx again…"
"What?" Jack asks, grinning lasciviously. "You'll punish me? Is that a threat or a promise?" He leans over and licks Ianto's neck.
"Not in front of my sister!" Ianto protests. "That's just… wrong." But he smiles.
Rhiannon takes the magazine (sadly, it's a respectable one) and opens it up to the page marked with a sticky flag. "Now that is bloody gorgeous."
"Ianto thinks it's gaudy."
"There's velvet. You can't get much gaudier than velvet."
"There's always lamé," Rhiannon says.
"Don't give him ideas. I will not sleep in a room that looks like a trashy disco bordello."
Jack pulls out another magazine and says, "I think we can compromise on something like this…"
"Yes!" Rhiannon says.
As they debate over colors and fabrics and furniture styles, Rhiannon watches the two men. Jack leans his chin on Ianto's shoulder. Ianto rests his hand on Jack's lap. There's a certain electricity in the air, and the room is full of excitement and expectation with just a hint of apprehension. Then, they grin at each other. She's seen that look before in other couples who are planning the next big thing in their lives. It's odd coming from them since Jack and Ianto have been together for quite some years, and they're already married so they say. She doesn't think they're planning to adopt a baby, not with their jobs.
"You two wouldn't be in the market for a new house, would you?" she asks.
"Why?" Jack asks.
"No reason," she says.
Ianto's never been this excited about DIY.
But they look happy, and Rhiannon reckons that whatever they're doing, they're in it together. That's the least she could ask for her little brother.
Ianto Jones is nesting. Lois realizes this when they're chasing a Weevil through a warehouse, and Ianto spots a pile of scrap iron. Once their prey is secured in the back of the SUV, he goes back to sort through the heap, thinking that he might find something useful. Johnson looks at him as if she'd like to stuff him in the cell with their new captive once they get back to the Hub.
After an especially difficult week, Lois finds the men in Jack's office, eating their supper over yet another set of blueprints. "Have the two of you gone out like a normal couple, lately?" she asks.
"Define normal," Jack says.
"You know, dinner, cinema, a night at the pub at the very least."
"We went out for drinks a few nights ago," Ianto points out.
"Yes, we went out. All of us. The whole team," Lois says. "I'm talking about just the two of you."
"It's not as if we don't spend time together," Jack says.
"Can't get rid of him," Ianto adds.
Jack tosses a chip at his partner.
"You're always here, building that…" Lois grunts rather than finish her sentence, knowing that she cannot badmouth the time machine in Ianto's presence or he'll get all huffy.
"Some couples play golf," Ianto says. "Others take tours of Italy, but building a TARDIS is what we do."
Jack clears his throat. "There is that BDSM club that I want to try."
Ianto considers it. "Maybe Tuesday. I'll pencil it in."
"We should make a night of it. How about dinner at that French place you like?"
"No, not there. The food's very rich. I don't want to be flogged on a full stomach."
Lois throws up her hands in defeat and stomps out of the office.
"Hey," Jack says. "We're not taking the piss. We're being completely serious. Promise!"
"Don't judge our love!" Ianto shouts after her.
Yet, clearly, Ianto is obsessed with the TARDIS, even if he doesn't see it. Sometimes, she worries that one day he'll get so involved with that machine that he'll forget what it is to be human.
Lois takes a deep breath. Not on her watch.
Ianto Jones is not the nesting type. He realizes this when he holds Oliver on his lap, and he does not know what to do with himself. As the toddler chews on his teething ring, Ianto knows that that the sprog is going to get slimy spit all over his suit. He sniffs the boy, trying to ascertain the state of the diaper, hoping that it's still relatively fresh. He glances at Gwen, who is tending to the cut on her little girl's knee, and wishes that she'd hurry up and take this load from him. Would it be polite to set him on Rhys's recliner? He could prop him up on a couple of pillows and give him the remote control. It would be a cute picture when Gwen gets back into the room.
The toddler fusses and squirms. He doesn't seem to like the arrangement any better than Ianto does. God, if he cries…
Ianto grabs a book on the coffee table and opens it up. "Ah, farm animals. See that's a cow and a sheep. You like sheep, don't you?… Well, you're Welsh. Of course, you do."
Meanwhile, Jack is sitting on the other end of the couch, trying not to laugh, and he continues his snickering on the ride back to the hub.
"What?" Ianto asks.
"The look on your face when you were holding Ollie," Jack replies. "You've handled bombs with more finesse."
"I've never been good with children. I'm always frightened that I'm going to break them."
"You did fine."
"Well, I'm just glad that's something we will never have to worry about."
The smile on Jack's face fades a little. "No, it isn't," he says wistfully.
"I thought that you didn't want any more children."
"No. I don't," Jack replies. He turns left before he adds, "You're not just saying those things about children because of me?"
"Of course not."
"Jack, we're building a time machine. Fun for us, but I'm fairly certain that the children of time-traveling parents do not grow up to become well-adjusted adults by 21st Century Earth standards."
"And some people don't feel the need to procreate."
"You're one of those people?"
"Yes," Ianto says, his tone very matter-of-fact.
"It's just that… you're gonna have a lot of time on your hands," Jack says, "and well, never say never."
"I think I can safely say that I will never be a normal man with a normal life. I gave up that possibility when I came back to life the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth time."
"And I haven't provided the best of examples," Jack says glumly.
Ianto gives Jack's thigh an affectionate squeeze. "It's not you. As we're getting closer and closer to getting the TARDIS up and running, I've come to understand that I will always be connected to her. She's my responsibility… our responsibility."
They fall into an uneasy silence. Jack pulls into the tunnel that leads into the underground garage connected to the hub while Ianto rests his head against the window and draws squiggly patterns with his finger on the bulletproof glass.
The SUV comes to a complete stop in its usual spot. Jack turns off the engine and is about to open the door. However, Ianto doesn't move.
"She frightens me," Ianto confesses. "This whole life frightens me."
"We'll muddle through."
Ianto raises his eyebrow. "Not exactly a comforting statement."
"It's the best one I've got."
Ianto chuckles, but he's grateful for Jack's sincerity.
"And at least you're not alone," Jack adds.
Ianto's chest tightens when he thinks of the early days of Jack's immortality and how utterly abandoned and confused Jack must have felt. So he shoves fear and self-pity aside.
"Yes, I'll need someone to take the rap when I cause a major disruption to the space-time continuum," Ianto says as he opens the SUV door.
Jack catches his partner's arm before he makes his escape. "I'd like to see you try to pin your messes on me."
Ianto grins. "We'll see."
Ianto Jones is nesting. He should have realized this sooner, given the amount of time and energy he's invested in building his TARDIS, but he never thought of it that way because his is not a conventional life. Then, the day arrives when she finally complete, and all of her circuits come to life for the first time. His heart swelling with pride and every inch of him buzzing with rapture, Ianto grabs Jack's hand, and he knows - wherever they are, whatever happens, they will always have a home.