How Ianto Jones Learned the Seventh of Twelve Things
(or The Curious Incident of the Nutmeg Tea in the Nightime)
“You?” said Gwen incredulously. “You? On a HEALTH kick?”
“And what’s so unlikely about that?” asked Owen indignantly. “And anyhow, it’s not just me on a health kick, it’s us. As in Torchwood Cardiff. All of us. I am a doctor, after all, and it’s my job to keep you lot fit for purpose.”
“Fit for purpose?” repeated Ianto. “You make us sound like second hand cars."
“In that case, Teaboy,” replied Owen “consider yourself first in line for your MOT.”
Ianto sighed heavily. He suspected Owen wouldn’t hesitate to use cold implements on him. In fact, he made a mental note to check the fridge before his physical just to make sure that Owen hadn’t chilled them first.
“There will be a timetable posted on the notice board first thing on Monday morning.” Owen was suddenly very business-like. “No one is excused.”
“And who doctors the doctor?” asked Tosh.
“I do.” said Jack.
“Oh no, no, no, no. no.” said Owen hastily. “I’ll get Rhodri to do me.”
“I didn’t think you swung that way,” commented Ianto quietly.
“And who, exactly, is Rhodri?” asked Jack, pointedly ignoring the Welshman.
“Friend of mine.” replied Owen, also pointedly ignoring the Welshman.
“Medical man, is he?” asked Jack.
Owen rolled his eyes heavenwards in exasperation. “He printed his degree certificate from the same website as I did.”
“That would be Hasbro's "Operation" game web site, would it?” Ianto was never at a loss, especially if there was a chance to bait Owen. Jack sometimes wondered if perhaps Ianto actually did have a hobby after all.
“That’s right.” said Owen brightly, not giving Ianto any satisfaction by taking offence. “I was always crap at the ‘Bread Basket’ piece in that game.”
“Bet that the new bit, ‘Brain Freeze’ was right up your street though.” came back Ianto.
“They only added that piece in 2004.” observed Owen “I’d already qualified by then. You’re the only one of us who was enough of a baby to still be playing Operation in 2004.”
“I’ve got a young nephew.” Ianto wasn’t prepared to be beaten by Owen yet. He was about to go in for the killer line: ‘in that case how do you know about the new piece?’ when Jack stopped them.
“Children, children, enough.” Jack knew when to allow the team to let off steam by sniping at each other and when to put a stop to it. He usually judged it correctly, ending things before fists began to fly. Usually.
Owen and Ianto glared at each other. Owen pointed his index finger at Ianto and narrowed his eyes. “You. Nine am Monday. Examination room. No breakfast. And be prepared to pee in a bottle.”
Monday 9.00am, Examination Room off the Autopsy Bay
“Take your clothes off and get on the table.” said Owen unceremoniously.
“And good morning to you too.” Ianto smiled breezily.
“Clothes off. Now” growled Owen, turning to his instrument tray. While laying out the tray, he’d noticed that the instruments were not as cold as he’d expected them to be considering he’d put them in the freezer before he went home the night before. But they’d been exactly where he’d left them. He made a mental note to get Ianto to check the temperature sensor in the freezer but realized he’d need to come up with a good reason for his suspicions. The truth would cost him dearly; it would bring him bad coffee for at least a month.
Despite fully understanding the concept of doctor/patient confidentiality, Jack still found excuses to hang around at the top of the autopsy bay in the hope of overhearing any snippets that would tell him how Ianto’s health really was. The young Welshman was always reluctant to discuss his own health with anyone. Jack was a little alarmed to hear the occasional yell, not to mention some squeaks, coming from the area. It was a little perplexing too that, while most clearly came from Ianto, more than a few were coming from Owen.
Monday 11.45 pm, Ianto’s Bedroom
“So, what did Owen say?” Jack was not particularly subtle. He never was after sex. Or during it, often.
Ianto, surprisingly, was forthcoming. “He said I should eat more vegetables, stop eating cocoa-pops for breakfast and have muesli instead, and get more sleep.” He smiled. “That’s why he’s prescribing a herbal tea sleep-remedy.”
“Sounds sensible to me.” said Jack, nodding approvingly. “You probably could use more sleep. But herbal tea?” Jack frowned. “That doesn’t sound like Owen. He uses drugs for everything. He sometimes even prescribes them for the rest of us, too. Oh well, homeopathy is an age-old science. How do you feel about taking natural remedies, Ianto?”
“Actually,” said Ianto “he’s not prescribing the herbal tea for me. He’s prescribing it for you.”
Jack spluttered. “What?”
“Well, you are the main reason I don’t get enough sleep, sir.”
Tuesday 9.00 am, Examination Room off the Autopsy Bay
Jack did not have to be invited a second time to disrobe. In fact, after the physical, Owen had trouble persuading him to put his clothes back on.
“Harkness, you are a supreme exhibitionist at times.”
Tuesday 5.00 pm, Hub
“Here, take this.” Owen handed Jack a bottle full of an unappetizing cloudy, brown-coloured liquid. “Heat it up and drink it as soon as you get to Ianto’s. You can put sugar in it if you want. You’ll start to feel really drowsy around ten, so don’t do anything daft like go to a 9.30 cinema show. Just stay at home, relax and look forward to a good night’s sleep. When you feel it kick in, don’t fight it, just go to bed and go to sleep. The pair of you.”
Jack and Ianto exchanged glances. Normally, whilst they were sometimes in bed by ten, they certainly didn’t get to sleep until later; a lot later. They both looked at Owen, who thought he detected a look of gratitude in Ianto’s eyes and misery in Jack’s.
“And what actually is in the bottle?” ventured Jack, suspiciously holding it up to the light and giving it a shake. He wrinkled his nose in distaste.
“It’s not what I ….” started Ianto.
“No!” said Owen indignantly, “it’s nothing to do with the examination you had yesterday. It’s nutmeg tea.”
“Nutmeg tea?” echoed Jack.
“Yup. Rhodri reckons it is the perfect natural remedy for insomnia. He’s a practicing homoeopathist, so he should know. He gave me the recipe.”
Jack scowled. “I don’t have insomnia, I just don’t need as much sleep as the rest of you. It’s a physical thing that happens when you get older. And don’t forget, I am over 150.”
“Lots of other physical things happen when you get older, too,” countered Ianto, looking meaningfully at Jack’s groin, “but you don’t have any problems in that department, so you can’t pull the age routine, sir. And you have to admit you often have trouble sleeping. You spend an awful lot of the night standing like a lemon on various Cardiff rooftops with your coat flapping around your ankles.”
Jack’s scowl was becoming a permanent feature on his face. “Lemon?” he hissed in Ianto’s ear. “Just wait until I get you home, Ianto Jones.”
Tuesday, 6.30 pm, Ianto’s Kitchen
“Here, drink it.” Ianto proffered a steaming cup of dark brown liquid.
“Don’t want to.” said Jack. “It smells noxious.”
“Look.” Ianto held the cup to his lips and simulated drinking. “Yum, yum. It’s delicious. I’m having some. You’d like it if you tried it.”
Jack’s scowl hadn’t left his face all evening, but it deepened at that moment. His eyes narrowed dangerously and his usually full lips pressed into a thin line.
“Just do it.” said Ianto, giving up on the cajoling rather quickly. He was tired and wanted a relaxing evening, not Jack behaving like a petulant five year old. “Drink it and stop complaining. A decent night’s sleep would do us both a world of good. Just hold your nose and chug it down, you won’t taste it if you do that. That’s how I manage to drink your coffee in the mornings.”
Jack added a frown to the scowl but had to stop. It hurt his facial muscles.
Tuesday, 6.32pm, Ianto’s Living Room
“Ianto. I think I’m going to be sick.”
“No, you aren’t, sweetheart. It’s because the tea was a little strong and sludgy. I know, because I really did taste it. It’s going to take a little while to settle in your stomach. Just lie down on the sofa and try to think of something else. Let’s watch a DVD.”
“Owen’s crap at making drinks. He always brews them too long.”
Ianto went to fetch a bucket anyway, just in case.
Tuesday, 10.15 pm, Still in Ianto’s Living Room
“How are you feeling?”
“Tired. Ianto, let’s go to bed. Before the spiders on the carpet get there first.”
Looking back on events later, Ianto realized that he hadn’t picked up on that warning sign at all.
Wednesday, 06.00 am, Owen’s Room
Owen was awoken by the strident ringing of his mobile phone. He squinted at the clock as he picked up. Six in the morning.
“Ianto, what the fuck do you want at this time in the morning? This had better be good.”
“Depends on your definition of good. I’m not sure that the nutmeg tea has had quite the soporific effect you thought it would.”
“Well, at the moment, Jack’s singing ‘Land of Our Fathers’.”
Owen was incredulous. “Ianto, it is 6.00 am. You rang me at 6.00 am to tell me Jack’s singing? He often sings in the shower. That is not an emergency.”
“I didn’t know he spoke Welsh.” Owen forgot his anger momentarily.
“He doesn’t. He only knows a handful of words so he’s la-la-ing most of it and suddenly belting out ‘Gwlad, Gwlad’ every time it comes up in the chorus, at the top of his voice.”
“It’s still not an emergency, Ianto, just a minor inconvenience. Why not teach him the rest of the words, eh? He’s got all eternity, which is about as long as I reckon someone would need to learn Welsh.”
There was a deafening silence at Ianto’s end of the phone line.
Owen grimaced, wondering if perhaps he’d finally overstepped his mark. Ianto would take a lot from Owen but insulting his national language might just have been too much. Owen waited for Ianto to say something and, in the background, could just make out the end of a fit of giggles, and the start of a rousing chorus of ‘Gwlad, Gwlad’. It sounded quite far away. And not like it was in Ianto’s bathroom at all. “There’s more, isn’t there? Something you haven’t told me.”
“He’s singing it naked.”
“I shouldn’t’ve thought that was a problem for you, Ianto. And anyhow, naked in the shower is probably the best way to be.” The doctor was feeling his way carefully now, sensing rising anxiety in the young Welshman.
“Owen, he’s not in the shower. He’s on top of the Millennium Center. Jack Harkness is singing the Welsh national anthem, stark naked, on the roof of the Millennium Centre in the middle of Cardiff.”
“Oh. That’s wrong!” Ianto could almost hear Owen cringing at the thought. “That’s so wrong! Stay where you are Ianto, I’m on my way.”
Owen hastily shrugged into jeans and a T-shirt and grabbed his field medical kit.
Wednesday 6.15 am, on the ground outside the Millennium Centre
“I couldn’t get anywhere near him.” Ianto told Owen. “He’s over stimulated.”
“I can see that.” commented Owen lewdly, shading his eyes against the early morning light to look up at Jack’s naked form on the roof, silhouetted against the rising sun.
“Not useful, Owen.” cautioned Ianto.
“Sorry, it just slipped out. I couldn’t help it.”
“Yeah, that’s what Jack says when it happens to him.”
Owen turned to glance at Ianto, but the Welshman remained impassive. Owen couldn’t tell if it was a straight statement of fact or a line positively dripping with innuendo. Ianto was good at that.
“Owen, we’ve got to get him down. The morning rush hour will start soon. And I think a naked American singing the national anthem might just attract some attention. Not exactly the publicity that a secret organization wants, really.”
“Naah, it’s about as subtle as having the name ‘Torchwood’ stenciled in yellow on the SUV.”
“Or those mouse mats Gwen got for us for Christmas last year. Do you remember them? Picture of the water tower with ‘I love Torchwood’ photoshopped on to the bottom.”
As the next rousing chorus of “Gwlad, Gwlad la-la-la-la-la-la-la” started ringing from the roof, they were refocused on the matter in hand.
“So, what are we gonna do about Jack?” mused Ianto.
Owen shrugged. “We could always shoot him off.” he suggested, trying genuinely to be helpful.
Ianto ran his hands through his hair, considering it. Then he shook his head. “No, we’d only have to deal with a resurrection headache as well as the after effects of an overdose of psychoactive cake spice.”
“Point taken, Teaboy. You got any better ideas, though?”
“One of us has got to get up there and tempt him down.” concluded Ianto.
“Tempt him with what?” asked Owen.
“Some mornings he’d do anything for a bacon sandwich.” offered Ianto.
Owen raised an eyebrow but didn’t pursue it. “Take a look around you, there is a distinct lack of bacon sandwiches on the Plass at 6.30 am”.
“I know,” said Ianto wistfully. “I’ve looked before.”
Before Owen could answer, Jack took another swaying step towards the edge of the roof. They both held their breaths in horror.
“Ianto!” Jack called plaintively. “I feel dizzy. I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Great! I wish I’d brought an umbrella.” said Owen, trying to calculate quickly the best place to be standing if Jack threw up from that height. He suspected that the spread pattern might be substantial.
“I’ve got an idea. Wait here and don’t go away.” said Ianto. Without stopping to elaborate he disappeared in the direction of the Millennium Centre service entrance at the rear of the building.
Owen took a deep breath, and with one eye on the roof and another on the Plass, which was still empty, he waited to find out what Ianto’s idea was. He hoped it was a good one.
Wednesday 6.37 am, Millennium Centre Roof
Ianto emerged onto the roof and looked around for Jack. It was very chilly, he thought. They needed to get Jack down before he caught his death of cold. That was never a nice way to die, apparently.
“Jack,” called Ianto softly, not wanting to startle the captain into falling off the roof. “Jack, come here, come closer to me. I want you.”
“And I want you too,” slurred Jack, stumbling slightly and nearly losing his footing.
“Easy, take it easy,” cautioned Ianto. “Let’s go down now. It’s cold and you’ve got no clothes on.”
“No. Not going down.” said Jack, the petulant five year old returning. “I like it up here on the roof. I wanna stay the whole day up here. In fact, I want to come and live up here. I’m sick of being underground in the Hub. I’m going to have a tent and live on the roof. And be able to see this view whenever I want.” He flung his arms wide, embracing the view from the roof top. The momentum took him even closer to the edge. And, had anyone been looking, he displayed more of Captain Jack to Cardiff than many might have found appropriate for that time in the morning. Certainly, it was more than Owen wanted to see. At anytime.
Ianto, torn between admiration at the view and horror at the possibility Jack might tumble off at any second, could only watch. He heard a disembodied voice calling his name.
“Yes, Owen?” he said, making his way cautiously towards the edge of the roof so he could see the doctor.
“Have you actually executed your cunning plan to tempt Jack down yet? Because if so, the only benefit of it I’m getting is a full frontal view of his genitals. And I’m fed up with the song. Though to be fair, he just threw in an ‘enwogion o fri’. But if your master plan is simply to teach him the rest of the lyrics, then I’m going home and you can ring me when he’s down; in all senses of the word down.”
“No. You are not going home.” said Ianto, simply but with force. “This is all your fault, you can damn well stick around and help me deal with it.”
Owen was about to protest his innocence, but then had a sudden recollection of his phone ringing when he was in the middle of preparing the nutmeg tea. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that, listening to the alluring tones of the fair Tegan telling him what she planned to do with him, and to him, that evening, he had lost more than a little concentration and had quite forgotten how many nutmegs he’d shoved into the coffee grinder. Consequently he had no idea how much powder was in the infusion he’d given to Jack. He made a mental note that he should also get back to the Hub as soon as possible and clean the remains of the nutmeg out of the coffee machine. It was at this point he realized that he’d also forgotten to tell Ianto to strain the tea. Hopefully, Jack hadn’t downed the liquid and the powder. Surely Ianto, the Teaboy, had had the presence of mind to find a tea strainer and had strained it first? Deep down Owen realized that Jack’s current behaviour clearly indicated that he had ingested the powder too.
“Jack, come on. You have to come down now.” Ianto tried again.
Jack crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head.
Ianto sighed. He really didn’t want to do this, but it was the only thing he could think of. Leaving Jack teetering on the edge of the roof, he retreated towards the doorway of the service staircase, from which he’d emerged, and took off his tie. He folded it and put it neatly into his jacket pocket. Then he started to unbutton his jacket. Jack was still oblivious, looking out over Cardiff. Under normal circumstances, Ianto would have been captivated by the view of the taught buttocks, but now all he wanted was to get this over with. He removed his jacket and waistcoat and began on his shirt, which was a vivid shade of red that matched Jack’s bloodshot eyes.
“Jack,” he called softly, hoping that he’d done enough. It was bloody cold on that roof with no shirt on. Jack looked round.
“Mmm, pretty.” he muttered.
“Come over here and tell me how much you like what you see.”
Jack shook his head, the petulant five year old hadn’t left yet. “I wanna see more.”
“No, come here first.”
Jack shook his head so violently Ianto was afraid he’d shake himself off the roof. “More first.” he demanded.
Sighing, resigned, Ianto bent down to unlace his shoes. He knew from experience that trousers didn’t easily come off over shoes and he didn’t fancy being caught off balance and hopping around on the roof with one foot caught in his M&S boxer shorts. He removed his shoes. And then, in one practiced fluid movement, off came his trousers and underwear.
Finally Jack started to become responsive.
“Mmmmm,” he licked his lips. “That’s nice.”
“Come on, love, come here to me.” Ianto tried to coax Jack towards him, towards the door that led to safety.
“How’s it going up there?” shouted Owen’s disembodied voice. “Doesn’t seem to be much happening! But at least he’s stopped singing.”
“Oh, it’s happening up here.” shouted back Ianto. “Believe me, it’s all happening.”
Jack was still resolutely rooted to the spot, his head turned to admire Ianto. Suddenly, all the energy that had been pumping through his veins from the ingested nutmeg high left him.
Ianto watched in horror as Jack started to buckle at the knees, looking as if he were about to faint. He leaped forwards to catch him.
“Come on now Jack, let’s get you off here and somewhere safer.”
“Hey!” called up Owen. “I can see you now. Have you got him?”
“Yeah, I’ve got him.” Ianto was supporting almost all of Jack’s weight. Jack was looking tired and bemused.
“Er, did you know that you haven’t got any clothes on either?”
“Yes, Owen, I did thank you very much. And very nippy it is up here too. So I would be most obliged if you could get your scrawny ass up here and grab Jack whilst I get dressed. I daren’t let him go in case he escapes.”
As if to prove that point, Jack started to become slightly argumentative, pushing against Ianto, making a grab for his bottom.
Ianto smacked his hand, restrained him, and tilted his face so that he was looking directly into Jack’s eyes. “Jack, come on. Just relax for a few moments. When we get back to the Hub, you can have whatever you want from me.” Ianto was fairly confident that Jack wouldn’t actually stay conscious long enough for him to have to make good on that promise.
“Whatever I want?” Jack’s blue eyes, clouded with confusion, looked beseechingly at Ianto. “Whatever I want? Promise?”
“Sure, sweetheart, whatever you want. I promise.”
“Ianto, may I have a bacon sandwich?”
Moments later, Ianto heard Owen’s footsteps thundering up the last flight of service steps and the naked Welshman flung open the door just as Owen attempted to open it from the inside. For a moment, Ianto was worried that Owen’s momentum might send him flying off the other side of the roof, but the doctor regained his footing and skidded to a halt, arms flailing.
“About bloody time!” hissed Ianto. “You really need to get fitter. You took ages to get here. Were you waiting for them to build a lift or something?”
“Sorry,” panted Owen. “Something I had to do first.”
Owen took Jack’s sagging weight, half propping and half holding him up against the door while Ianto quickly got dressed again. Owen watched as Ianto zipped up his trousers. Of Jack’s clothes they’d found no sign. Ianto made a mental note to activate the tracker device that was sewn into the seam of Jack’s greatcoat when they got back to the Hub.
“You were quick enough to get your kit off up here.” Owen observed as he watched Ianto reknot his tie. “Why couldn’t you have been more cooperative on Monday?”
“I wasn’t trying to tempt you on Monday, Owen. Or any other day of the week, for that matter.”
“Rest assured, Ianto, you didn’t. And you still haven’t.”
Together, they helped the almost comatose Jack down the stairs and bundled him out of the service entrance and into Owen’s car. Although it was only a short distance across the Plass to the Hub, the first of the early morning pedestrians had started to cross the Plass on their way to work. Although Owen thought they could pass Jack off as a victim of a stag night prank, Ianto vetoed that immediately and insisted on driving back.
Wednesday, 6.00 pm, Ianto’s Bedroom
“How are you feeling now, Jack?”
Jack looked up from the comfort of the bed. He'd burrowed into its warmth and spent the whole day there after Owen had discharged him from his medical care. Owen had then sent both of them home, with instructions to Ianto to just let Jack rest and try to sleep off the overdose but to keep an eye on him and call if he was worried. It could take anything up to 36 hours he reckoned before Jack would really feel OK again.
Jack was feeling too delicate to shout at Owen at the Hub, but the doctor knew that a dressing down was inevitable. And deserved. But, he’d figured, if it was coming his way anyhow, he might as well make it worthwhile.
Ianto came into the bedroom with two cups of coffee and a plate of bacon sandwiches. “Feel like eating yet?” he asked kindly.
Jack tentatively accepted a sandwich, and found to his surprise that he was actually quite hungry and eating didn’t make him feel sick.
“Do you know,” he said, talking through a mouth crammed overfull with bread and bacon, “we were rather lucky that the Plass was quiet this morning. It’s amazing that no one actually saw…’
“or heard us. Really lucky.”
Ianto heard the tell-tale flip-flop of the letter box as the evening newspaper plopped onto the doormat. He stood up and went to fetch it.
“Let’s check the television page and see what’s on. I can’t be bothered to go to Blockbusters for a DVD.”
He came back into the bedroom, opening the newspaper straight to page 34 and, holding it open in front of him, he quickly became engrossed in the details of that night’s entertainment.
“Well, sounds like there’s a good play on the radio called ‘Lost Souls’, or we could watch….”. He tailed off, aware that Jack had got out of bed and was on his knees on the floor in front of him. Normally that signaled only one thing, but Owen had told him to rest. Ianto went to swat him away with the newspaper but Jack put up his hand to catch Ianto’s wrist and restrain it as he peered intently at the front page of the newspaper. “Ianto, hold still. I don’t want your body, I want your newspaper.”
“That’s a first, sir.” As he said it, Ianto noticed that Jack’s face was turning deeper and deeper red and his mouth was moving but no words were coming out.
“What is it? What’s wrong? Are you feeling OK? Are you having a flashback? Shall I ring Owen?”
Still no words came out. It was all Jack could manage to gesture to the front page, most of which was taken up by a grainy photograph. Ianto’s eyes went to the caption, which read “Mystery Men Protest at Millennium Centre.”
“Busy day there today.” He smiled. “First us, then this.”
Jack had by now recovered sufficiently to speak. “Ianto, that is us!”
“WHAT?” squeaked Ianto.
“Listen.” said Jack, then quoted from the paper. “Two mystery men were spotted early today on the roof of the Millennium Center. The nature of their protest is still unknown. This photo was snapped by a passer-by. Although it is not possible to make out the identity of the men, it is clear that one is completely naked and the other is wearing only black socks.”
“But there was no one there in the Plass. We got you down before the first passer-by arrived.” Ianto was perplexed.
“Does Owen by any chance have a camera in his mobile phone?” asked Jack.
They lunged for the phone on the bedside cabinet simultaneously.
Owen, wisely, didn’t answer. He knew he’d have enough to answer for later.Solsbury Girl