Author: Milady Dragon
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Toshiko/Kathy
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E3, "To the Last Man"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note: Here's just a short and fuzzy short story. This takes place directly after "A Stitch in Time". Hope you enjoy!
Summary: Kathy invites Ianto out to lunch, in order to ask him a very important question.
25 July 2008
Kathy Swanson was more nervous than she’d been when she’d taken the detective’s exam.
Her hands were clammy, and she couldn’t help but wipe them on her trousers; nor could she keep from fidgeting as she awaited her lunch date. It was strange; she didn’t think she would be turned down, but there was always that chance…she needed to get this right. There was no other option, not if she wanted to be happy for possibly the rest of her life.
She knew the risks; of course she did. Kathy had lived through a year of hell, but it had also brought her to the one person she wanted to share her days with. She’d always considered herself a hard-arsed bitch who would never find a partner that she would love. But she had, and this was so important that she could only focus on a good outcome.
Still, she couldn’t help but be scared.
Kathy heard the door of the pub open, and she craned her neck around to see if it was who she thought it was. Yes, it was Ianto, and he spotted her immediately, waving as he stepped up to the bar to place his order. Kathy’s own lunch sat, forgotten in its basket, her stomach too filled with butterflies to make the effort of eating.
Instead, she took a large gulp of her pint, almost choking on the strong beer she’d chosen.
“You all right?” Ianto’s voice asked over her coughing. A warm hand began to pat her on the back, and Kathy was able to get in a big breath of air past the lump that had formed in her oesophagus.
“I’m okay,” she whimpered slightly, rubbing her chest. Damn, that had hurt!
Ianto left her side and slid into the bench opposite, setting his own pint on the table in front of him. Kathy had chosen a booth near the rear of the pub, so they could have a bit of privacy. After all, if she didn’t get a positive response to what she wanted to say, then she could still have her dignity intact because no one of the sparse crowd could listen in.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, taking a sip of his drink, “but Jack and I are going to be interviewing for the place on the team left open because of Gwen.” He smirked. “Since a certain copper of our acquaintance won’t accept the position.”
“Yeah, and you know my reasons, Jones,” she answered, coughing once more before taking a drink of her own pint. It burned slightly going down but this time she didn’t choke.
“I do, and both Jack and I respect them. But I think you sell yourself short if you don’t think you can handle Torchwood. You were amazing during that Year. You and Toshiko both did a fantastic job running the Resistance.”
“Yeah, well that’s one of the reasons I turn you both down every time you ask,” Kathy replied. “I think I get a little scared about just how well I do handle it.” She’d spoken to Toshiko about it, and her lover had understood. Sometimes she did worry about Toshiko, getting so deeply involved with that shit, but Kathy also knew that her lover would never quit unless she was carried out in a body bag. In a lot of ways she understood that; it did rank up there with someone asking Kathy to give up being police. At least it wasn’t out of a sense of duty because both Harkness and Ianto had saved her from UNIT, although Kathy knew Toshiko did feel she owed them something. As did Kathy, because they’d rescued the love of her life.
Ianto nodded and she thought he must have understood, as well. “Anyway, we have six interviewees coming in starting next week, and I had to arrange accommodation and travel plans. Only two of those are local; one is from a Spanish division of UNIT, another two are from France, and the last from the US.”
She raised an eyebrow at that. “You going international, Jones?”
He shrugged. “Not really, it’s just how things worked out. We went with the best of the CV’s.” He smirked again. “I’ll have you know Andy Davidson was one of those.”
“He looking to defect?” Kathy knew her protégé, and recognised his lust for adventure. She couldn’t really blame him for applying to Torchwood, but at the same time he really didn’t know the full score and it worried her.
“Actually it had been sitting in the pile since before Gwen left. And, I’ll have you know, the minute we saw it, both Jack and I decided against incurring your wrath by hiring him away.”
“Damn right! I don’t need you poaching my partner,” she growled.
Ianto held his hands up in surrender. “He’s all yours. We have no designs on DC Davidson. In fact, we like him where he is.”
“Good. Just so we understand each other.”
Their usual banter had helped settle her nerves a bit, and with that came the notion that Ianto was her friend, and that she really didn’t have anything to be worried about. He’d been nothing but supportive, and Kathy had no doubt that that would continue, no matter what she’d ask.
Her appetite also seemed to come back, and she reached into her basket, grabbing a chip and dipping it into the brown sauce she’d liberally poured on top of the pile of fried potatoes. The chip was cool, but not too limp to eat yet.
“I see that you waited for me before you ordered,” the dragon teased.
“Not my fault you were late,” she retorted, waggling a chip in his direction, sauce dripping back into the basket. “A copper’s lunch time is too short to wait on busy dragons.”
Ianto shook his head, and she couldn’t help but read the fondness in his eyes. “At least you waited to eat until I got here.”
“Any later and it would be ice cold!” she exclaimed. Kathy wasn’t about to admit the reason she hadn’t touched her meal before was because of sheer nerves.
Anything Ianto was going to counter with was interrupted when a voice from the bar called out, “Jones!”
The summoned Jones stood. “I’ll be right back.” He ambled over to the bar to retrieve the plate that was there.
Kathy took a drink and then settled back in to eat. This was their usual lunch place – unless Ianto owed her a favour and she was able to pick somewhere swanky – chosen because it was close to the station and she could walk down. It was a bit less convenient to Torchwood, but Ianto never seemed to mind, nor had Toshiko.
They hadn’t had lunch together in a while. When she’d started dating Toshiko Kathy had found all her time invested in her lover, and her friend had taken a back seat. Ianto had taken it all in stride, even giving them what Kathy swore had been an indulgent smile, and there were actually times when she thought of him more as a patriarch of some sort of clan that included Torchwood and various hangers’ on.
Which was why she needed to ask him her question.
Ianto approached the table once more, plate in hand. If she knew him – and she liked to think she did – then there would be the house specialty, shepherd’s pie, on that plate.
He set it down, and Kathy crowed to herself for being correct on his meal choice.
“So,” he said after taking a bite of his lunch, “to what do I owe the honour of you eating with me, instead of Toshiko?”
Kathy almost choked on the piece of battered fish she’d been chewing on. “What, I can’t ask a friend out for lunch? It’s been forever since you and I just sat and ate together.”
Ianto nodded, seeming to accept her explanation. But, there was something knowing in his blue eyes, as if he could see beyond her words and into her mind.
They talked as they ate, Kathy filling Ianto in on some of the better gossip around the station, while the dragon sharing with her some of his observations on the people they would be interviewing next week. She could tell he was concerned about it, but then after hiring Gwen Cooper hadn’t turned out exactly well, had it?
Of course, Harkness had been the one to bring Cooper onto their team, and Kathy could recall just how Ianto had felt about that at the time. Kathy had been really pissed off at Harkness about his high-handedness in the way he’d disregarded the dragon’s input, rightfully outraged at hurting her friend the way he had.
Things were better now, though, since Cooper had been fired and that Ianto and Harkness were unequivocally together now.
Kathy offered her opinions, but she hadn’t read any of the CV’s belonging to their interviewees so she really couldn’t tell if anything she said would be useful. “Just don’t break anyone, okay?” she requested. “I’d hate to be called out because someone went on a rampage hunting for aliens where there aren’t any.”
Ianto chuckled. “No promises.”
“Yeah, I thought you might say that.”
The chuckle turned into an outright laugh. “If we break them, we’ll just send them back home again. You won’t have to lift a finger.”
“You say that now…”
He shook his head playfully. “If they can’t handle a simple alien then they wouldn’t last a minute in Torchwood. You know, sometimes I think we could hire someone off the street and they do better than some of the winners who wanted to apply.”
“Of course…it’s Cardiff! We deal with invasions before breakfast.” Kathy was proud of her adopted city, and wasn’t afraid to admit it. Cardiff saw a lot of weird shit, and most of the citizens took it all in stride even if they didn’t quite understand what was going on.
Ianto put down his fork and gave Kathy one of his knowing looks. “All right, Kathy. Something is going on and you’re not telling me.” His expression turned sympathetic. “If something is wrong –“
“No, nothing’s wrong,” she denied. Even if she was a bit put out by his straightforward comment, Kathy knew she really should get to the reason why she did invite him to lunch. “It’s just…” She sighed. “Okay, yeah, there is a reason I asked you to come to lunch, and before you ask it doesn’t involved Tosh…well, it does, but not in a bad way, I promise.”
The dragon settled back in his chair, pushing his half-eaten lunch aside. Under his gaze Kathy felt her nerves return, and she also moved her meal, the better to lean her forearms onto the table. The red fire dragon tattoo on her wrist appeared to glow slightly in the dimness of the pub.
C’mon, Swanson, she yelled at herself mentally, you know you don’t have a thing to worry about! This is Ianto Jones, her friend…
“Okay,” she began, “we’ve been friends for a long time, and I trust you –“
“I trust you, as well,” he said warmly.
She smiled in reply. “But lately I’ve been seeing a different side to you, one that’s more…paternal, I guess you’d say.”
“At least you didn’t say maternal!” the dragon exclaimed.
Kathy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, Tosh has told me about you and Harkness arguing over who’s the Mum and Dad of Torchwood. Honestly, you’re more Dad material than your worse half, if just because of his diva tendencies.”
“Thank you, I’ll tell Jack you said that.” He reached across the table, taking Kathy’s hands in his. “You know you can say anything to me.”
“I know, but this is just so bloody important…” She drew a deep breath, and then continued. “Anyway, I wanted to speak to you as the…I dunno, the Tad of Torchwood. And I…” she swallowed heavily, “I want to get your permission to ask Toshiko to…to marry me.”
Kathy held her breath, waiting for Ianto’s response.
It wasn’t long coming, and when it did the relief she felt was immense.
The dragon grinned like a maniac, his whole face lighting up. “Are you kidding? If course you can ask her!” He was up and out of the booth in seconds, tugging Kathy up with him. He pulled her into a hug that threatened to crack her ribs, and Kathy could feel his sheer joy radiating from him along with the heat from his body.
Ianto was laughing in her ear. “You have no idea how happy I am!”
She couldn’t help but laugh with him, her fear evaporating like a puddle in a heat wave. She had to hold on as Ianto spun her around, and one of her feet clipped an empty chair before he must have realised there wasn’t enough room to do that sort of thing. It did some damage to her dignity to be slung around like that, but she didn’t mind one bit.
Then he sat her down, pulling away just enough to look her in the eye. He was practically glowing. “You have no idea what an honour it is for you to come to me,” he said almost breathlessly. “Both you and Toshiko are two of my dearest friends, and I couldn’t be more pleased for you.”
Kathy’s knees felt weak, and her heart was pounding. She really shouldn’t have doubted that Ianto would have given his blessing. After all, he was right…they were friends. And he would want nothing more than for her and Toshiko to be happy. She couldn’t keep the sappy grin from her features. “Thank you,” she said sincerely.
Ianto moved away, and they each took their seats once more. The dragon actually wiped a single tear away with his thumb. He laughed again. “Wait until I tell Jack. He actually got a bit jealous when I said we were having lunch together, even though he knows you’re with our Tosh and I’m his mate.”
“Idiot,” she growled playfully. It surprised her that Harkness felt that way, but then it was obvious there were times when the man didn’t feel as if he deserved having good things happen to him. Kathy wondered if it stemmed from his time in the hands of that bastard, the Master, or if this was some sort of confidence issue from before that he’d managed to hide under his usual bluster.
“Look, if you need any help, all you have to do is ask.”
“I’ll most likely take you up on that!”
He took her hands again. “Anything you need, Kathy. Just say the word.”
Warmth filled her chest at his offer. Kathy didn’t yet know what they were going to do, or even if Toshiko would accept her proposal, but knowing that Ianto Jones was on her side lifted a weight she hadn’t even been aware of carrying.
“Excuse me,” said a voice just off to the side.
Kathy and Ianto both looked up; it was the barman, and in his hands were two fresh pints. “Couldn’t help but notice a bit of excitement over here, and since at least one of you is a regular,” he tipped his head toward Kathy, “I thought I’d bring these over. On the house.”
“Not trying to bribe a copper, are you?” Kathy asked, keeping her voice teasing. She was actually touched by the gesture. Many of the local police came here, and she and Toshiko met there about twice a week to eat together. Most of her fellows knew Toshiko was with Torchwood, and had accepted her readily despite any stigma attached to her team…well, Harkness really. But then the bastard could be a real dick when he wanted to.
The barman laughed. “Like I thought that would help.” He set the pints down on onto the table. “Although I have to wonder why you’re here with a bloke and not that pretty girlfriend of yours.”
Yes, the question was nosy and impertinent but for once, Kathy didn’t mind. “This is the pretty girlfriend’s adopted brother, and he’s just given me permission to ask her to marry me.” ‘Adopted brother’ was easier to say than ‘protective father-figure dragon’ and much simpler to accept.
That got her a wide smile. “Congratulations, then. When the two of come back in, drinks are on me if I’m on duty. That includes the brother,” he tipped his head to Ianto, “and any sort of plus one he should bring with him.”
“Thank you,” Ianto answered. “That’s generous of you.”
“Nah,” he waved it off, “I’m just a hopeless romantic. Ask my wife, and she’ll tell you.” He tipped his head once again. “Have a nice day, and good luck with the proposal.” He headed back toward the bar, with Kathy and Ianto’s thanks following him.
“Now,” the dragon said, turning back to her, his blue eyes glittering, “just how do you plan on asking Tosh? I want to know all the details…”
“Well, I haven’t really thought that far ahead,” she admitted.
“Then, if you don’t mind, let me help you with this. I even volunteer to go ring shopping if you need me to…”
“Oh thank god,” she moaned. “I’m way in over my head. They don’t teach you this shit in police training.” She’d planned on asking, so it was nice of him to volunteer himself like that. “And you have such good taste in pretty much anything except for mates…”
Ianto rolled his eyes at her. “If you ever stop giving Jack grief, I’ll think you’ve been replaced by an alien.”
Kathy had gained a hell of a lot of respect for Harkness, and for what he went through, but she was never going to stop nagging on him. “Yeah, make sure you check under my desk for a pod. That’s where any alien hoping to take me over would hide it, since I think sometimes that I’m chained to the thing.”
The dragon shook his head wryly. “Kathy…perhaps we should be discussing your upcoming proposal instead of my mate.”
He was teasing, and Kathy let him change the subject anyway. “Alright, I know I want to make reservations somewhere nice…”
They sat there and discussed plans, and Kathy was glad Ianto had volunteered to help her, because she suddenly found out she definitely wasn’t the romantic type.
But that was fine.
Ianto was there, and he would help her through this.
Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, Kathy Swanson was ever so grateful for a dragon’s friendship and support. He would be sure that she didn’t make too much of a fool of herself.
She was so glad to have him as her friend.