Characters: Jack/Ianto, OCs, mention of other canon characters
Warnings: science fiction clichés, fluff, very mild child endangerment
Spoilers: up through CoE
Betas: wynkat1313 and bookwormsarah took a look at this; any remaining mistakes are all mine
Summary: Ianto didn't feel like a jaded space pirate. He felt like a teenager on a particularly long gap year, backpacking across the galaxy with his best friend.
Author's Note: Set in the "Intersections" 'verse, but knowledge of that series is not required. (No, really.) Written with all due affection to billa1 who knows this could easily have been a different story, though probably one with less porn.
Another day, another semi-anonymous spaceport. The inhabitants of this particular less-than-legal establishment preferred temperatures around five Centigrade, which meant the port was heated only to the interior of the average refrigerator back on Earth. Ianto shivered deeper into the comfort of the coat he'd bought at an outrageous price, thanks to the local merchants' desire to milk every last credit out of the station's visitors. Jack was in a blustery good humour today, blowing out great steaming breaths and rubbing his hands together as if enjoying himself rather than forcing warmth back into them.
Jack sat at the cramped table with their prospective client, while Ianto lingered nearby at what passed for the bar. After the first time when they'd been ambushed together -- and that had been an adventure, if an unintentional one -- they'd developed the system where one did the dealing and the other provided the lookout. There were only so many times Ianto wanted to break out of an inescapable cell. One of these days, it would actually be inescapable, and then where would they be?
Ianto sipped his drink, watched the room and listened to Jack.
"We've been known to provide transportation from time to time," he drawled casually in the common language of this part of the galaxy. Ianto spoke it brokenly. He learned languages during the long periods between ports under Jack's haphazard tutelage. The first words Jack taught him in any tongue were those for restrooms and body parts, which unfortunately meant Ianto was in many languages only capable of asking about putting his cock in the loo. (Jack thought this was funny as hell.)
"Can you also provide discretion?" asked the alien, a billowy bluish creature with a single long arm that bent in four places.
"I am the very soul of discretion." Jack's eyes glittered as he sipped at the orange liquid in his glass.
"With additional payment, I am sure."
"It does ease my soul, yes."
"Would an extra ten thousand ease your soul?"
Jack smiled. "It would."
Ianto glanced away. Payment was a ticklish subject between them. Thanks to thousands of years of saving, Jack was wealthier than some of the star systems they'd visited. But as he'd pointed out, potential clients felt more secure when forced to pay a handsome price for services rendered. Ianto worried about squeezing money from desperate people. To split the difference, they'd set up a small but growing charitable foundation using the pseudonym of one of Jack's old nicknames from back home, and every credit they earned from the jobs they ran went into it.
"Fifteen for the transport, then," said the alien. "And ten at the completion for … religious purposes."
"Fifteen?" Jack sat back. "I could have sworn we'd said twenty."
"Ah, the art of the deal." This came, rather unexpectedly, from Ianto's left, where another alien had taken a seat on a slingback chair at the bar. This species seemed common to the area: squat and moss-coloured and clever, with rectangular pupils like a goat. It spoke Galactic Standard with a flawless accent.
"I wasn't really paying attention," said Ianto, taking another drink. Beverages on the station ran warm but bitter, and he kept himself from making a face.
"You've been doing nothing but pay attention since the other human sat down."
Another glance around the dark pub confirmed that they were the only two humans in the establishment. Honestly, Ianto had stopped noticing. Since they'd left the Thames House colony, he hadn't been among a large group of humans, and like all the other previously-unheard of aspects to his current life, this had become acceptable, normal even.
"I'm just taking in the local colour."
The alien made a choking noise, and then said, "That's a broken plium, and no doubt."
Ianto blinked. He had difficulty with idioms, but he thought he'd just been called a liar. Which he was.
"Is there something you wanted?"
"Transportation and no questions. But I doubt we'll come to an arrangement with your partner."
A number of questions came to mind, not least how the alien had known to use the inflection on the word "partner" to indicate "business associate and spouse," which was the same inflection Ianto used. Denying that he knew Jack would do no good. "Is the price too steep?"
"No. But your partner appears to be too noticeable for our purposes."
As the alien spoke, Jack broke out in a large laugh, drawing the attention of the other patrons in the pub.
"Forgive him," Ianto said. "He's … "
"Stupid." That was unfair, and he regretted the word as soon as it escaped, but the "young" stung a bit. Somewhere in the past few months, Ianto had surpassed Jack in the apparent age department, helped by Jack's recent fixation with dyeing his hair back to its long-ago darker shade. Ianto had been accustomed to being the younger one, and then they had been peers, visually speaking. Now he was the older man.
All this flashed through his head in a moment, and he offered up a false, quiet smile to the alien. "Your partner," Ianto was careful to use the inflection that did not imply further relationship but left the possibility open, "has yet to discuss the nature of the items being transported."
"That falls under the heading of 'question.'"
"No, that was merely a statement. I didn't say we cared, simply that it hadn't been addressed."
The alien's expression changed. Ianto wasn't certain what the new one meant, but had the notion he'd impressed it somewhat. "Twenty up front. Eight when we arrive."
Jack remained at his seat, gesturing at the other alien and indicating that taking any cut in payment would be robbing his very family of sustenance. Jack said this helped ease the client, when they believed they'd haggled a hard bargain. Ianto thought Jack just liked the chance to lay it on thick.
"Done." Ianto held out his hand in the standard fashion to seal a spoken bargain. The alien touched his fingers.
"We will meet you at your ship in one turn." Not quite an hour, then.
Sometimes, Ianto composed letters in his head, had done so since they'd begun this odd new life. When he was conflicted, he wrote to Lisa, who'd always been the most sensible person he'd ever known. When Jack drove him crazy, Rhiannon was his best whinging post. When he was on another of Jack's mad adventures, he dressed it up in science fiction razzmatazz for David and Mica to enjoy. And when he noticed some quick, bright thing that Gwen would have appreciated, he tried to describe it for her.
You're never going to believe this, but today we booked on passengers involved in illegal smuggling. The more criminal the aliens we encounter are, the more human they seem, and I start forgetting.
The alien signalled his companion, who got up from the table without another word.
"Hey!" Jack said, startled into Standard.
"It's taken care of," said Ianto, downing the last of the sour beverage. Jack paid their tab, and they walked out together.
"You were right," Ianto said in English, when they were out of earshot. "You were the distraction."
"I've dealt with these guys before. Did you spot their buddies?"
He hadn't, and he'd looked. "The Marsenite?" he guessed.
"Him, and the Polydian, and the two Grunds."
"I missed those."
Jack shrugged. "The cartel generally hires from a handful of worlds around here. You don't know the sector yet."
But Jack did. They were both far from their home times, but Jack had been to this time and sector before, though he hadn't been forthcoming on when.
"We have about a turn until they come to the ship."
"That gives us time to pick up the last of the supplies."
"Already done and loaded."
Jack's eyebrows raised. "When was this?"
"While you were chatting up the Lognians. I thought you didn't like Lognians." Jack had died at the hands of one once upon a time, though he couldn't remember.
"We might need to hire on some extra muscle."
"Ah." Which wasn't agreement and wasn't argument. "Are we recruiting them, then?"
"Not those two." Jack stamped his feet. Ianto found this oddly comforting, to see Jack wasn't as unaffected by the cold as he'd indicated. "Let's get back to the ship."
The dock wasn't far, and as they went, Jack took his hand and squeezed. His fingers were like icicles. Ianto shivered. "Cold hands," he said at Jack's look.
Ianto snorted in an undignified way as they boarded. Jack placed his free hand reverently on the bulkhead as they entered, as he always did. Her name was the Celes Tirra, a name from a fairy tale Jack had told him one night years ago, and Ianto had long since accustomed himself to the notion that Jack loved her at least as much as he loved Ianto. They'd spent months fixing her up, and almost every day since trying to keep her together between star systems, but she was fast, and sleek from the right point of view, and she was home. Ianto's memories of Earth were a hazy warmth, half-composed of films and television programmes as much as they were of his friends and family. The twenty years he'd spent with only Jack for company on an idyllic, if boring, planet in Jack's home time were fading into a dream of their own. Now he rose and slept in the darkness of space, and he ate and drank what could be easily stored and prepared in a cramped messroom, and Jack was always there, eyes on the next adventure, and this was where Ianto belonged more than anywhere else he'd ever lived.
As soon as the hatch closed behind them, Jack flipped on the switches to the heaters.
"You're wasting power," Ianto said, even as he was grateful for the sudden puff of warm air on his face. He shed his coat and rubbed feeling into his hands and arms.
"You're freezing." Jack took off his own coat, then began checking the systems for lift-off. Once they acquired the item for transport, they weren't going to stick around long.
"I'll be fine." A chill went through him, as the cold was slowly driven off, and his teeth chattered.
"You could always take off the rest of your clothes, let yourself warm up properly." Jack gave an obligatory eyebrow waggle as he kept starting the ship's systems. Possibly a come-on, then, but Jack breathed come-ons. Ianto shrugged off his clothes anyway. He could change into something warmer and in the meantime …
Jack's eyebrows went up on their own accord. "I didn't think that would work," he said, attention no longer on the ship's controls. Ianto picked up his clothes, mindful of giving Jack a bit of a show as he bent over, then casually walked off towards their quarters. A cold hand touched his hip, sending another shiver through his body. "Don't run off so fast."
"Just going to get my clothes."
The hand lingered, Jack's large fingers splayed across bare skin. Goosepimples moved over Ianto's body in a wave. "You don't have to get your clothes. I've been thinking we ought to institute a 'no clothing' policy on the ship."
"We'd have to heat the interior to a higher temperature, which will use more power. I don't fancy the idea of being caught halfway from the Medusa Cascade with no fuel cells left just because you don't want to take the time to strip."
Jack nuzzled into his neck. "Point taken. But since you're already naked ... " A second cold hand joined the first, pressing chills into Ianto in a very pleasant fashion. His own hands were still full of his discarded clothing, and he settled for adjusting his body to slide against Jack's touch. Half a step back, and he could feel Jack, half-aroused through his trousers.
The proximity sensors beeped.
Jack ignored the sound, choosing to tickle delicately down Ianto's sides, then draw his blunt fingernails up again. Ianto let out a sound that was almost a purr, then regretfully stepped away. "Our guests are here."
"Can't be. They're early." He pressed up against Ianto again and swiped a quick lick against the back of his earlobe, blowing after to cool it. Oh, they were going to have to explore this avenue, but not right now.
"Business now, pleasure later," Ianto said, and turned for a quick kiss. Before Jack could grab him again, he hurried to their quarters to get a new outfit that wasn't chilled through.
When he returned, the two aliens from the pub were boarding the ship, each carrying a small bag slung over one shoulder. The one-armed alien clutched its red leather bag possessively. Ianto gave a nod to Jack, but Jack's eyes had already settled on the bag before glancing away again, a mask of easy criminality sliding into place. "First things first, fellows," he said in Standard. "Where's our payment?"
The squat alien removed a credit slip from its own bag and handed it to Jack, who made a great show of checking the authenticity. The money would be real, even if it had been acquired in an unsavoury manner. Happy with what he found, Jack pocketed the slip and spread his hands.
"Welcome aboard. We only have one guest cabin, so you'll have to share. The cargo hold is ready for whatever luggage you'd like to bring."
"No luggage," said the one-armed blue alien. He twitched towards his bag again. The squat green alien made a brusque motion. Ianto made a private bet with himself that the plan included the squat one executing the nervous one at the end of the trip, no doubt blaming the death on Jack and Ianto.
"Let me show you to your cabin while we take off," said Ianto. He led them to the guest quarters and let them make a scene of their own of sniffing the air and questioning the cleanliness of the linens. Four bunks filled the room, and Ianto loaded the smaller two up and out of the way. A few minutes later, he felt the slight lurch of the dampeners kicking in, signalling their departure.
"Meals are every seven turns. Please let me know if you have particular food requirements." They splurged on fresh ingredients whenever they could, but the ship could also create basic nutritious foodstuffs directly from the energy stores. This trip would take less than a day, and it wasn't worth purchasing expensive supplies to cater to the aliens' desires.
"Our thanks," said the squat alien. Its companion waved his arm.
Ianto closed the door as he exited, and tapped the edge of the frame where the recorder controls were hidden. The guest quarters were bugged, and their clients would expect this to be so. The fake bug was left in a place that wasn't completely conspicuous so their passengers could find it with some searching. The real one was a filament-thin thread in the sheets. Jack had a private collection of the better porn generated by their past unknowing guests which Ianto refused to sample. He was less averse to the collection of recordings they'd saved for potential deals and blackmail schemes.
Ianto joined him in the cockpit. "They're safely away."
"Good. Red bag?"
"That's my guess."
Jack flipped on the output for the bugs. Sure enough, the obvious one had already been discovered and deactivated, while its mate spit out the quiet conversation between the two aliens. Ianto didn't know this language, but Jack nodded along as if following.
"They're discussing the dropoff. It'll be right after we reach the planet."
At the next mealtime, the two passengers joined them in the small mess for a crispy dish that tasted of freshwater fish with a side of a root vegetable reminiscent of couscous crossed with a carrot. The one-armed blue alien, whose name was Rayda Tel, swooped his appendage gracefully to scoop food into his mouth in between chatty comments about the station they'd left, his littermates, the local political scene, and a sporting event. Ianto could only follow about half of it, but apparently nodding every so often was more than enough participation in the conversation. The other alien, known to them only as Janda, ate silently, watching its companion through thoughtful eyes.
Rayda Tel said, "And I told her, 'That's no way to … '"
The ship lurched. Jack was on his feet instantly, headed to the cockpit, while Ianto checked the room they were in for immediate damage or air leaks. Nothing appeared broken. Rayda Tel let out a long, fearful moan.
"Stop that," hissed Janda.
Ianto left them and joined Jack.
"Company," Jack said. On the monitor, two ships approached them rapidly. "Their first blast took out the port engine."
"Are they here for our guests?" If they were, whoever they were, they could have the aliens, no questions asked.
"I don't think so. Try hailing them again."
Ianto took the communications system from Jack to his own station and tried to make a connection. No answer. That almost certainly meant only one thing. "Fuck."
Jack had already prised the lid of the control panel and was rewiring something, heedless of the live energy flowing through the system. "Ow," he said, as it popped and burned his hand. "Dammit." A few more twists of wire, and something like a sputter rocked the ship from the port side. "That should give us enough juice to get out of here."
Ianto sat back. This was Jack's element by far, dodging laserblasts and hotwiring starships. He spared a thought to their passengers, but frankly, they could fend for themselves.
The ship dodged another blast, but barely. From the angle of approach and the deliberateness of the aim, there was no doubt that these were raiders. They would attack small ships passing through their territory, cripple them, and board. Jack and Ianto had lost one cargo run to a raid, and would have lost more had it not been for a well-timed passby from the local authorities, sparked by a distress call from the raiders' previous (and less fortunate) victims. They weren't going to be that lucky twice.
Jack pushed the engines hard, squeezing out more speed. They'd have hell to pay later with the stresses on the manifold, but if they were alive to pay it, so much the better.
Ianto pulled up the local starcharts and scanned them as fast as he could. "There's a star system we can make." If they pushed the engines harder and could break off from the raiders, they could hide.
Jack chewed his lip. "Yeah," he said slowly. "I think we can make that." Ianto plugged in the coordinates and then braced himself in his seat. The dampeners would take care of the worst of the acceleration, but they were already being stressed past their usual operation level.
Jack threw the engines into overdrive, which spun them as the port engine ran at two thirds of the rate of the starboard. With a grin, he flipped the power stabiliser, resetting the starboard engine to compensate, and flew as fast as the ship would go. Another blast shook them. Ianto checked the sensors for damage. Nothing major. The shields held, but shields on this model only served to buffer damage, not prevent it.
He kept an eye on the monitor, watching as the raiders followed closely. If they couldn't get more distance, they'd never be able to lose their pursuers among the planets and asteroids. Jack ignored the small images behind the icon of their ship, focusing on a manual, darting path that kept them out of range of further fire. Ianto placed his hand on the panel, willing more power into the ship like he had when he was a child in his dad's car on mornings it refused to start; it felt like helping when he was unable to do more.
"I need you to join the spare power cells to the port engine's inputs," Jack said, as a lucky blast hit their tail.
Ianto slid out of his seat and dashed for the storage compartment. Two square power cells sat under a pile of boxes, and he moved everything out of the way as fast as he could. He lugged them into the engine room one at a time and hit the comm. "I have them. Talk me through the process."
As Jack gave him step by step instructions, punctuated by curses as he piloted them through the outer debris field of the star system, Ianto connected lines and hoped he wasn't accidentally about to short out the whole thing. Behind him, Janda and Rayda Tel came into the engine room.
"Stay out of the way," he said.
"You've got that coupling backwards," said Rayda Tel. "You'll get a feedback spike."
Ianto looked at the coupling, but he couldn't tell one end from the other. "Are you sure?"
"I am sure."
"I can't see it from here. Make the call."
Ianto hesitated, then he changed the coupling. The last connection in place, he nervously flipped the switch to divert power. The ship jumped, and then he heard the port engine come up to speed with the starboard one.
Ianto grabbed onto the nearest bulkhead and nodded that the others do the same. A heartbeat later, the ship dropped sideways and then accelerated hard. Ianto clambered over to the small monitor at the engine panel. The icon that represented their ship was making a mad race directly for the system's sun.
"Jack, what are you doing?"
"Hoping they'll be blinded by the light."
"We'll burn up," said Janda. "Tell him to change course."
Ianto stared as they ate up the distance. The solar shields came up automatically, soaking in as much energy as they could, but already the hull temperature was climbing past safety limits. The two raiders were close behind.
"Jack … "
The air handlers whined with the sudden influx of heat.
At the last possible second, the ship veered hard in a direct drop and loop manoeuvre. Behind them, the raiders fell away, their own sensors confused by the sheer electromagnetic radiation surrounding them.
"Now we run," said Rayda Tel, but Janda shook its head.
"Now we hide."
The moon had a breath of atmosphere and hardly any gravity, but it was dotted with geological formations from a violent history, and it was inside one of these that they took shelter. The ship fit easily inside the cave, and to complete the disguise, they'd shut down all systems, including life support. The passive air scrubbers meant they wouldn't asphyxiate, but as soon as the engines went out and the shields dropped, the internal temperature plummeted. They'd gone from nearly frying to rapidly freezing.
It was days like this that Ianto most missed the constant rain in Cardiff. That was weather and temperature he could handle.
"Do you think they can hear us?" asked Rayda Tel, for the third time. He didn't shiver, but something about the timbre of his voice indicated cold. Janda was from a cooler climate and appeared perfectly comfortable in the icy near-darkness.
"Not from inside the ship," it told Tel irritably, also for the third time.
Jack, wrapped in his thick coat again, joined them in the mess. "We lost three insulation panels. I'll have to rig up something from the stores to compensate."
Ianto said, "You'll need to go outside."
"We've got the suits. I'll use the airlock," this was a small hatch at the ship's underbelly, "so you don't lose atmosphere."
Ianto didn't like the plan, but without insulation panels, they'd be exposed to too much radiation. As it was, their jaunt so close to the sun would require a trip to a physician once they were out of this mess. Jack might heal through anything, but Ianto was only human. (Once, he'd had access to a particular technology that would have healed him of anything, and given the right application, could have extended his own life almost indefinitely. He'd given it away to someone who needed it more. Jack still didn't know.)
"I'll help you get the panels."
They left their passengers in the mess, which, as the centre of the ship, had the most insulation from the bitter cold outside. Jack said in a low voice, "Keep an eye on them."
Ianto nodded. Together, they freed three panels from the bulkheads inside the engine room. With a little fiddling, these could be used as makeshift insulation on the outer hull until they reached a proper spaceport. Ianto followed Jack's instructions, working on one of the panels as Jack managed the other two.
"I'm going to keep silent outside. Don't want to draw any attention." They had no way of knowing if the raiders had given up pursuit yet.
"All right. Be careful."
Jack kissed him, quick and cold. "You, too."
The panels just fit through the airlock, thank God, and Ianto watched until the outer hatch shut tight again. Then he rejoined the aliens in the mess.
"No, they can't hear us," said Janda irritably.
"Are you sure?"
Ianto sat down opposite them in the cramped space. They'd already pulled out all the heavy blankets from the cabins and brought them here, and Ianto huddled unhappily under the duvet. Jack would fix the ship, and they would wait until the raiders were gone, and they would get the hell out of here, complete their mission, and go someplace nice, preferably warm.
"How long have you been doing this?" asked Tel.
Janda glared at him again, clearly annoyed. Ianto said, "Travelling and taking on passengers? A few years."
"What did you do before?"
"I was a farmer." It wasn't a lie; he'd worked in the fields at the Thames House colony, and thanks to the programming from the Time Agency, part of him was permanently rewired to want that life back, no matter how happy he was to be out here with Jack.
"It keeps the colonists calmer," Jack had said. "Stuck on a planet with strangers, thousands of years away from their families, a little tweak in the brain stops a lot of homesickness." It hadn't, though. The other colonists had missed their families and friends deeply, although Ianto supposed they'd adjusted well enough to the reality that they'd never see any of their loved ones again. Unless that loved one was Jack.
"Was he a farmer as well?"
"The Captain?" He tried to picture Jack as a proper farmer, settled in one field for his whole life. He couldn't do it. "No. Definitely not."
"So you have not been together long, then?"
Tel made a noise, but Janda nudged his side and Tel said nothing else as they waited. Occasionally, Ianto imagined he could hear thumps from outside as Jack affixed the new panels. He ought to be out there helping, but they didn't dare leave these two alone in the ship. Jack didn't have to tell him that acting the part of jaded space pirates would keep their guests from assuming anything else, but unlike his other assumed roles, Ianto didn't feel like a jaded space pirate. He felt like a teenager on a particularly long gap year, backpacking across the galaxy with his best friend.
At last, Jack came back inside through the airlock and exchanged his spacesuit for thick clothes. Ianto didn't even dare turn on enough power to run the stove unit so they could warm themselves with hot drinks. This time period favoured a hot beverage that tasted mostly of cinnamon, though Jack promised him that a nebula in the general direction they were travelling held planets which still grew coffee beans.
Instead, as the hours passed, they all sipped icy water and lunched on cold meats and bread left over from earlier. If they gave the raiders enough time, they would assume the Celes Tirra had escaped, and would either go hunting again, or just leave the area. But if their ship emerged too soon, they'd have to outrun the raiders again, and while she was fast, she wasn't going to hit top speed with a jury-rigged port engine. So they waited.
Ianto snuggled deeper into the blankets, unfastening his coat to match with Jack's open front so that they could share the little heat. "I can't remember the last time I was this cold," he said in English.
"That one winter on the planet, when it snowed for a month."
"We spent that indoors. I only went out for firewood."
"But you were cold when you did."
"Not this cold."
Jack looked like he might keep arguing, but he stopped, and wrapped his arm more warmly around Ianto. "Just another couple of hours. We'll get out of here, drop them off and finish our mission, and then you and I will go to some tropical planet."
"I want sand and an ocean."
Jack laughed, drawing the attention of the other two. He dropped his voice. "You'll have them. There's a planet about ten parsecs from here that should be perfect. We'll spend a week there." He settled against Ianto, and his voice went dreamy. "They have this fruit, it tastes like mango. Earth was the one with mangoes, right?" Ianto nodded. "All sticky and drippy, though, very messy to eat and you'll end up covered in juice. We'll have to eat them naked so we don't ruin our clothes. You'll have a sticky mess running down your face, and I know you'll be upset and you'll want to wipe it off, but don't worry, I'll clean you up." He bent his head and lapped at a spot on Ianto's neck, just so. "Wouldn't want you to get sand stuck to you."
"We'll eat them on the beach?"
"Yeah, and when I lick the last of the juice off you, we can go for a swim. The water's so warm there, and it's tinted this orange-pink colour from the plant life, it's like swimming in nectar."
A shiver went through Ianto at the image. "I suppose you'll seduce me then."
"Nah. Though if we don't fool around a little, I'm going to be disappointed in you."
"Will we camp, do you think, or are there cabins?"
"There are hotels, and some are even set up for humanoids. But I think we'll get a cabin. More privacy."
"Good," Ianto said. "When we finish our swim, we can head back to our cabin. I'll see if we have some talc in the stores so we can sprinkle it on ourselves, make the sand fall off before we go inside. I hate walking on sand indoors."
"Always thinking of everything." The smile was affectionate, and also searching. Ianto had just taken over the story, and Jack was waiting to hear what he came up with next, while their passengers sat at the other side of the room, unaware of what their words meant.
"We'll already be naked, so there won't be any worrying about belts or boots. Very thoughtful of you on that."
"As soon as the door is closed, I'll drop to my knees. I can't stand sandy knees, so you'll be glad again for the talc. If we've been necking, you'll already be hard, but I hope you're not. I love the feel of taking all of you into my mouth at once, letting your cock get hard and plump as I start sucking."
Jack made a low groan in his throat, which he turned into a cough as he attracted the aliens' attention again.
"You'll make that sound, but we'll be alone, so you'll start making the loud noises we both like. If I've pushed you up against the wall instead of the window, you'll probably crack your head as you throw it back when I start swallowing around you deep in my throat. You should watch that."
"I will," Jack said, breathing gone quick.
"I like it when you hold my cheek, and you know that, so you'll have one hand on me and the other reaching down to touch your own balls. You want me to play with them, but you know I won't yet."
"Precisely." Ianto thought for a moment. "I won't suck you off, not yet. When you're hard and needy, you're going to start begging me to do something, anything, to keep my mouth on you, to fuck you. I'll try the latter."
"Since we've been naked, I'll have to get the lubricant from where we packed it, but I'll have planned ahead and left some within easy reach. Since I've also planned ahead, instead of going directly for it, I'll go into the kitchen."
"Our mangoes are all gone."
"I'll get some ice. Just a little, because you don't want cold hands on your dick, but I'll hold one chip in my fist, and let it melt, and you can lick the water as it drips down. I'll give you another to suck on. When I've chilled enough, I'll cover my fingers with the lube and slip them into you, so cold and so good."
The air around them was freezing, below freezing, but Jack's eyes locked onto his and burned as he said, "When you pull your fingers out, the ice in my mouth will have melted, and I'll take you in one cold swallow, and you're gonna hate it at first, but I'm going to warm up around you, and you love that." Ianto was already hard playing this game, and he let out a small whimper as his cock jumped again, pushing against his tight trousers.
"Yeah. I'll push you away slowly, because my hand is still cool from the ice and when I rub the lube over my dick, it's going to be colder than I like. You'll already be on the floor, and I'll push your shoulders until you're on your hands and knees. I won't be able to wait long before I push inside of you, and we'll warm up together, cold slick and hot skin. I love it in this position, where I can feel every inch of your body when I drape myself over you, or when I can get a good hold on your hips and just … start … pounding."
The whine was back in Jack's throat. "I'm going to be so full of you, I'll almost be able to taste you. You're going to feel so good, so hot. We're both going to be dripping with sweat, the air's so hot in the cabin."
"As I get closer, I'll ask you to touch yourself, and your hand will be warm because the ice was all in your mouth. You'll want to start jerking your shaft, but I'll tell you to hold off, play with your foreskin, rub your balls, until you're so hard you could scream. I'll be kissing you everywhere I can reach on your back and neck, licking the salt from your shoulders, and whispering how much I love to fuck you, how tight you are, and then I won't be able to hold back and I'll come."
"I won't, not yet, not until you pull out, and I turn around to reach up to taste your mouth. You're gonna want to rest, and I'll help you down, and I'll watch your eyes as I finish myself off, covering your belly. I love how that looks on you, love that you're mine."
Ianto could see it all easily, and in his mind, he himself was a little younger, with a little less grey hair to get covered and matted with Jack's semen. "That's a good holiday plan."
"Yeah, and wait until you hear what we're eating for supper that night." Jack's breath was tight, and Ianto could feel him hard against Ianto's leg. He wanted Jack, wanted him now, but they had company.
Of course, they did have their own bunk, and sure it'd be a bit chilly, but …
Jack looked at the aliens. In Standard, he said, "Back in a few minutes."
They took the duvet with them to keep warm.
Jack edged the ship out of the cave twelve hours after they entered it. Ianto watched all the sensors closely, but nothing showed up. "We'll be careful anyway," Jack said. "We can run mostly silent." To their passengers, he said, "You don't mind taking a little longer to arrive, do you?"
"Too late to argue," said Janda. "But we want to arrive alive."
"Good choice." They returned to their course.
The aliens declined breakfast. The ship came into the next star system just as Ianto and Jack were finishing their own meal, a bread dish which Ianto found palatable with a touch of sweetener, and which Jack only ate slathered in honey. Ianto watched him eat, licking the honey off each finger. They really needed that holiday soon.
Food finished, Ianto wiped down the surface of the table and Jack folded it into the wall. Ianto went to the guest cabin, tapping politely on the door. "We'll be arriving soon."
As the door slid open, he placed a calm smile on his face.
"Our thanks," said Janda. "Payment will be on arrival as promised."
"Lovely." He waited for them, as the ship made the swooping motion from dampeners and artificial gravity to real-time momentum and a planetary pull. Space legs, Jack called it, when Ianto automatically changed his stance to compensate. Janda didn't so much as hesitate, while his companion rolled uncomfortably with the motion.
Dear David and Mica, First, mind your mother, you little brats. Just joking. Today, I was better adjusted in outer space than a blue alien with a prehensile arm.
Ianto followed them to the hatch, which Jack hadn't lowered yet. Jack stood there, his careful smile in place. "Sorry about all the delays, but as you can see, we did get you where we promised to go."
"Our thanks for bringing us," said Tel. "And saving us."
Janda said, "Your ship was well worth the payment."
"Good." Jack's gun was in his hand then, as if pulled out of the air. Ianto had his own weapon at the ready. Janda barely twitched, but Rayda Tel flailed in fear, clutching his bag.
Janda spat a word that Ianto didn't know. Jack said, "Now, now, there's no need for name-calling. Leave the bags, and you won't be harmed."
"We have powerful friends," said Rayda Tel. "You have no idea what trouble you are borrowing."
Janda stayed silent, watching Jack. Jack watched back. "The bags," said Ianto. "If you would, please."
"I will pay you double to take me back to the station. You can keep the bags."
Tel balked. "They'll kill us!"
"No, our clients will kill us if we don't arrive with the package. As I said," this was to Jack, "I will pay double for you to transport me back." Definitely singular, and Tel had just noticed that as well.
"I don't think so," Jack said. "The bags. Now. And you should know, if you go for your weapons or try anything funny, that my partner is wanted in five star systems. He can hit a meeba out of the air from across a landing strip." Ianto smiled when the one-armed alien looked at him suddenly. "Don't cross him."
Janda dropped its carryall. Tel put his own down, then raised his arm high as if to smash down. Ianto dropped his gun and went for the bag as the shot rang out. The blue alien squealed and pulled his injured arm to his chest, the flesh still smoking. "Don't do that," said Jack, not lowering his weapon. "Get out."
Janda said, "Once they know you double-crossed us, our employers will find you and they will kill you slowly."
"That's our thing to worry about. Go." He slammed his hand roughly on the hatch button, and it lowered enough for the two aliens to scramble out. Beyond the docking clamp, Ianto could just make out a small circle of armed aliens from a winged species watching their exit. Then the hatch closed again.
"Time to go," Jack said, rushing to the cockpit as Ianto scooped up the red leather bag. The ship lurched, but he ignored the motion as he reached into the bag, fumbling around the spare clothing and personal hygiene items to find a carefully-wrapped parcel. Ianto pulled it out with both hands and dropped the bag unheeded to the deck. He carried it into the cockpit and sat beside Jack.
Outside, the other aliens were approaching their two passengers, who were speaking quickly though there was no sound. Jack flipped the emergency launch switches and the engines roared to life.
Already the brighter ones among the aliens awaiting their arrival had trained their weapons on the Celes Tirra. Ianto put up the shields just before particle weapons fire peppered the hull. Jack scooted them up into the atmosphere and out of range while Ianto held the package in his lap.
When they were clear of the planet and well on their way out of the star system, Jack spun his chair. "So let's take a look." He was aiming for impatient, but Ianto caught the note of excitement, like an unexpected birthday present.
Ianto unwrapped the bundle to find a gem, greenly opalescent and almost glowing, about the size of a large grapefruit.
Jack let out a low whistle. "Nice."
Ianto nodded, admiring the shimmer. "I was expecting something a bit more dull."
"The commoners do run dull, but this is from the royal family. They pay top dollar for beauty." As he spoke, he dialled in a particular code for the communications link. They'd wiped this number just in case their passengers went poking around. The link hummed to life and Jack spoke the pass phrase.
On the screen, a large-crested bird-like alien appeared, his crimson feathers tipped with gold. "Your Majesty," Jack said in Standard, bowing his head. "We've found your daughter."
Ianto held up the egg for inspection. The King clacked his beak in formal greeting. "My deepest thanks. What of the criminals who stole her from the nest?"
Ianto said, "The cartel operates out of the Tilani Station, as you suspected. The two couriers we picked up matched the description of the pair who took her. We left them empty-handed with the faction which was trying to purchase her." Jack had tried explaining the local politics, how kidnapping and ransom were time-honoured methods of intimidating the government, but honestly, as soon as they'd heard the job was to retrieve an endangered child, neither had needed further incentive.
"When will you arrive?"
"Give us twelve turns," Jack said. They'd have to make repairs when they landed.
"The reward I offered for her safe return will of course be credited to your account upon arrival."
"That won't be necessary," Ianto said, leaning forward over Jack's sudden protest. "We are pleased to help you be reunited with your daughter."
The King's feathers ruffled, and Jack pushed Ianto carefully but surely out of the way. "Of course, we understand you wish to demonstrate your gratitude and that you would be insulted if we declined." He glared at Ianto. "When we arrive, we will give you the name of a charity who will be happy to receive the benefits of your largesse."
The King bowed his head. "My thanks once more. Take care of her."
"We will." Jack ended the transmission. "I thought we went over how not to insult the royalty."
"I thought we went over how we weren't extorting people for our services."
"A reward isn't the same as a ransom. Anyway," he said, waving a hand as Ianto went to protest, "the foundation gets a donation, the King gets his egg back, everyone wins."
Dear sis, today we rescued a gem that was really an egg that will hatch into a princess who's going to be a king someday. Weather continues good.
Ianto let out a smile that was half a laugh. He rewrapped the egg and placed her in the small storage compartment at the back of the cockpit, where she would be safe for the rest of the trip.
"The cartel will put out the bounty on us within the hour. You know we can't show our faces in this system again for a while."
Jack shrugged. "Plenty more systems out there." He finished making notes in the log. "So now that we've defeated the bad guys and saved the princess, what do you say we celebrate?"
As Ianto took Jack's hand, part of him wondered how much of this was real. Would he wake up one day and find himself back on the train to London, confused by a fading dream of secret alien-hunting organisations and amazing adventures? Perhaps he'd fallen into a coma at the battle of Canary Wharf, struck on the head and constructing a whole life in his head as he lay in hospital on life support. Maybe the last twenty-five years were a last, gasping fantasy passing in front of his eyes as he died in Jack's arms.
Even if that were the case, did it matter?
"Tell me more about this holiday we're taking."