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February 6th, 2009


[info]accio_arse01:13 am - TORCHWOOD/BOOSH FIC (3/4) PG-13
Title: Bongos in the Hub part 3/4
Fandom: Torchwood/Boosh crossover
Author: accio_arse
Rating: PG-13 (More tension than sex really. And sillyness.)
Word Count: this part 4500 PLUS 3 IMAGES (images completely worksafe)
Pairing: Ianto Jones/Howard Moon (Ianto/Capn Jack Harkness, Howard/Vince Noir)
DISCLAIMER: Neither The Boosh nor Torchwood are mine.
Notes: The ‘Guide to Socialising’ pamphlet is adapted from the fantastic Torchwood game on the BBC website, with some inferior photoshopping by me. No disrespect intended.

Part 1 Part 2




*

When outside the Hub, Jack’s drink of choice was a glass of water. Nothing more, nothing less. Ianto had noticed it, and in his usual way, mulled it over.

Jack did like to have his secrets. Occasionally he had kept his team in the dark for years at a time – from reasons of purest altruism, of course. Or at least that was what Jack had said, after the event when it all came out, in a way that usually involved fatalities.

In Ianto’s opinion, it was better to be well informed.

He sat at his desk in the Hub, flipping his pencil over his fingers. Index finger, middle and ring, around the end, and back to the start. Each movement was distracted and brittle. Ianto was working out the possibilities.

For instance, what about that time Jack had spent off world last year? Suddenly disappearing, then coming back as if nothing had happened. As if he could just walk back like that, back into all of their lives. Back to being here in Cardiff. Back to being head of the team. Back to Ianto, and whatever it was they had together.

Not that Ianto had been up to much while they apart. On the other hand, Jack - who knew what he had got up in his time out there? Who knew where, and with whom? Or in what multiples of species, how often, and with what accessories?

Mid-knuckle, Ianto’s pencil crashed to a halt.

There was something else he hadn’t thought of. As in, exactly which occasions it was that Jack stuck to water. Ianto flicked through his memory, double-checking and making sure. Yes. He’d been right. It was the times they were out when it happened. When the rest of them were kicking back with a drink.

So Jack wasn’t just drinking water. He was avoiding alcohol.

Ianto’s brain started to speed, following through. So when else did you avoid alcohol? That was to say - when did women avoid the stuff? No, it couldn’t be… surely not…

Ianto’s pencil dropped with pure unmingled shock. Perhaps it could.

Jack had dropped hints before, like that time he’d wound Gwen up after that incident with her incubation. He’d said pregnancy wasn’t just for breeders and transsexuals. Oh no, it was something he’d had int-tim-ate experience with himself.

A flood of full-colour images struck Ianto: Jack nine months gone, proudly stroking his belly. Jack screaming, in the throes of labour. Jack, cradling a newborn, holding a bottle – or worse, having sprouted something milk-producing himself, courtesy of his alien liaison – Ianto felt a little dizzy. It wasn’t really possible, was it?

Ianto tried to make himself laugh. It didn’t really work.

The problem was, you couldn’t put anything past Jack. For all Ianto knew, he could be gestating a full-scale alien foetus right now. Triplets, perhaps. Or even dozens. Small ones, of course - Jack would never allow anything to ruin those years of rigorous abs work. But still…

Ianto pushed back his chair. This was getting ridiculous. He would convince himself of anything, if he only brooded long enough.

Time to do a little digging.

In the end, it was comparatively easy. It wasn’t even very well hidden – just in Jack’s filing cabinet, with access by Jack’s key (the one Jack thought he had the only copy of) and then by combination lock. You had to move some manuals, and then it was staring right out at you, right beneath the false bottom of the middle drawer.

“Ahem,” said Jack, tapping Ianto on the shoulder. “Looking for something?”

Ianto jumped back. He hadn’t the approach of Jack. “No – nothing!” he squeaked.

As one, they both looked down into the filing cabinet. There, under the unearthed hidden floor of the drawer, was the incriminating bottle, nestling among the manuals.

“So - this thing you aren’t looking for,” asked Jack. “You find it yet?”

“Uh!” said Ianto. “I mean…”

The bottle’s label said Glenmorangie, 10-year old malt, and the seal around the screw top was clearly broken. Even lying on its side, the contents were visibly half gone. Ianto frowned, thinking it over.

“When, whenever you decide whatever it is,” said Jack, shutting the drawer. “Be sure and let me know.”

“It’s the water,” said Ianto, finally deciding to have out and done with it. “Every time we go out. Why only water?”

“Excuse me?” asked Jack.

“The team goes out, and you only ever drink water. I mean not… uh….” Ianto looked at the whisky. “I just wondered....”

Jack relaxed into a smile. “You really want to know, Ianto? You really do? Well, here you go. Knock yourself out.” He fished in the manuals above the false floor of the drawer and found a small, well-worn booklet. Then he tossed it onto his desk and settled himself in the chair behind.

The booklet had a pale peach cover and was slim and worn at the edges. It was written in a jaunty style that reminded Ianto children’s programmes of long ago, the ones in black and white ones that always seemed to involve well-bred women singing to dancing mules on strings.

He picked it up and leafed it through.

‘PLAY IT SAFE!’ he read from the yellowed page. ‘When in public, exercise moderation!’ He raised an eyebrow. Was this was some sort of an explanation? ‘PLAY IT SAFE’ didn’t sound like anything Jack had ever done his whole life long.


TORCHWOOD INTERNAL DOCUMENT ISSUE 2309M/7: A GUIDE TO SOCIALISING








Ianto was at the last page by the time Jack stood up. Jack walked round his desk and studied the leaflet from behind Ianto.

“Of course, nobody wants to be responsible for mass global panic,” read Jack, flicking the pages and tracing the words with one finger. His other hand rested on Ianto’s shoulder.

Ianto felt warm breath on his neck and shivered.

“So there you have it,” Jack continued. “Nothing to it. I’m just following guidelines. Being responsible. Simple as that.”

But of course, it wasn’t. Things were never simple with Jack.

*

It was near midnight in the depths of Cardiff Bay, and than ever, Ianto was beginning to appreciate that Torchwood Internal Document Issue 2309M/7 might have had a point.

It had all happened with him hardly realising it. Recruitment straight from school and into Torchwood One – a massive, incestuous glass box of a tower, high above Canary Wharf, where thousands like him had been shoved all together. There were covert departments, teams, task forces and mop-up sub-sections, then more sub-sections to clear up the work of the other mop-up sub-sections, with further waves to clean up the work of the sub-sections - brain-wipe, data adjustment and public re-alignment divisions, although they weren’t called that overtly, of course. Ianto hadn’t cottoned onto what it was all about for years after his job interview, a process so shrouded in mystery he hadn’t a clue to what he’d been applying for. In London, the work had been never ending, although at the age of twenty-one, alone in a new city, Ianto had found that reassuring than otherwise. Afterwards, he’d gone socialising only with other Torchwood staff - just one big, covert-alien-hunting, public-hiding, truth-suppressing family.

After a few years, Ianto had looked up, and he’d had a shock. Months since he’d spoken to anyone non-Torchwood – just the merest strangers across a till, transactions in a shop, utility providers down the end of a phone. Six months since he’d even seen his family. Subtly, it was discouraged.

‘The Happy Oblivious’ - that had been Smithson’s term for them. The others, the general public. That was way back when Ianto had made it up to Clearance. He’d been working for Torchwood four years by then, but was still naïve enough to be shocked by things like that. “The Happy Oblivious,” Smithson would pronounce in the clearance meetings, each time with a pleased little purse of his lips.

Apparently Smithson had made the term up himself. Surely there had to be a reason for that smugness of his whenever time he used it - and Ianto and the rest of that year’s uptake had got to hear it many times indeed.

“The clue is in the title, chaps,” said Smithson at yet another of the early morning round-ups. “Keep them oblivious, keep them happy. Alien visitations? Simply ridiculous! Something that only happens to misguided American livestock with a taste for erotic internal interference. Your charming general public - confirm what they think they already know, and you’ll find the rest a doddle. They don’t like to unduly strain the noodle, you see.”

Amazingly, Ianto had found this to be the case. After a little while he ceased to be surprised, or even disappointed – and after all, it did make their job that much easier. And after all, Clearance or not, he still was only a lowly twelfth floor Data Transf clerk.

Then tonight, the world seemed to have taken another small step sideways. Well, it was either Ianto or the world, and it definitely hadn’t been him.

Ianto knew that people often misjudged him. He looked younger than he was, that was for definite. There’d been a couple of instances, like one time when they’d gone out with Seventh Floor Trans Archive. Trans Arch were a division almost entirely staffed by the more mature worker, and Janice, the small one - or had it been Sheila, in purple – whichever it was, by the end of the night she was rufflling Ianto’s hair and telling him he could only be about twelve, and was far too young to be out drinking. Ianto had set her right, that he was well into his twenties, but that only seemed to make matters worse. “Aww, you’re not! Look at you, you can’t be!” she’d cooed, and then Ianto had to dodge an even more embarrassing deluge of clucks and cheek-pinching from about thirteen more crazed women.

That was the night Ianto realised he was regarded by women over fifty as a sort of petting zoo.

Still, Jack was hardly a middle-aged lady, was he? There was no excuse for him telling Ianto to go sit in the corner, like he saw him as a kind of dim-witted poodle. Of all people, he should know better.

There had been comments in Torchwood Three, ones that Ianto had pretended not hear. It was mostly Owen, to be honest. For instance, saying that Ianto had only got his current job after he had rolled over and made great big eyes for the boss. Asking why Ianto was still only the teaboy. Did Ianto have a gun? Didn’t change essentials. Still only the teaboy. The words ‘part-time casual’ and ‘fuck’ had even been mentioned, together with ‘you’re not even his’ and ‘in your pathetic little dreams’.

Ianto knew Owen was wrong. Deep down, Jack needed him. That was the way it worked; they both needed each other. But still, words lingered, long after they had vibrated out of the air.

If Ianto were totally honest, it wasn’t exactly his glittering CV that had got him hired.

It hadn’t been the way he’d wanted to do it. He’d tried all the legitimate methods he could think of first. Presented his CV, offered to try out for free. Any way to make himself seem like an attractive candidate, an indispensable member of the team. Nothing had worked.

Then he’d seen that flicker, that leap of interest in Jack’s eyes. And of course he’d really needed to get that job.

Sometimes, if Ianto thought about it too much, he did start to feel soiled. But really, back then, both of them had used each other - in a way. Was it really so bad?

Ianto lifted his pint and took a drink.

Perhaps he just needed to get away for a while.

Away from Torchwood - like that was ever going to happen. Ianto twisted a smile into his beer. It was as likely as him and Jack having a huge talk about all of this, an great big heart-to-heart, ending with Jack getting down on one knee and promising to never to flirt with anyone else for as long as they both should live – whether human, non-human or other, and not even with those that came easy on the eye, or had conveniently placed tentacles, or came packing more than exceptionally tasty extra-terrestrial equipment.

Ianto laughed at the thought.

So, in the meanwhile, he did what he could. He picked up his beer and decided for just one night, to imagine he was as far away from it all as he could.

On the bar table in front of Ianto were a few pieces of string and some leather thongs among the remains of some disembowelled bongos. Between the bongos dribbled the contents of a vial labelled ‘Horn Juice’, and over the whole thing was Howard TJ Moon, bent over the table, and concentrating hard.

Howard was holding a large metal implement in one hand with a sticker on the side, scribbled in orange crayon with the words ‘THIS BELONKS TO HOWERD MOON – MASSIF SPANER’ in a badly formed, childish scrawl. Howard looked up for a second and waved his spanner at Ianto. He grinned.

Ianto felt himself grin back. Funny, tonight he couldn’t seem to stay angry for long. How many drinks was that now? Hard to tell. Howard had been up to the bar the last few times. Actually, Ianto didn’t even feel drunk. The world had just gone intense and glowing, as if someone had reached out and turned up the contrast.

Is this is what life was like for other people, then? The normal ones, the Happy Oblivious? Is this what they did on their nights off? Just sat around in a pub, and watched a man in a moustache drink beer and try to fix his collapsible bongos?

For all Ianto knew, it could be.

It was bizarre, really. His whole adult life spent like a hamster in a wheel, round and round and round, with only an occasional break for the feverish pursuit, suppression and capture of aliens.

Howard was busy tying two supporting struts of his bongo. Ianto stared idly at Howard’s hands, trying to imagine a world in which it had all never happened. A world free from the rift, from Torchwoods, both One and Three. The past years of his life would never have happened. Ianto’s stomach dropped as he reached the inevitable conclusion – past a world without Torchwood, and to a present that didn’t contain Jack.

After all, there was nothing really concrete between them now, as was demonstrated by Jack’s attaching himself onto that blonde stranger. Ianto’s stomach twisted colder at the memory. His eyes rested on Howard’s fingers as they worked away, interweaving a piece of leather.

Howard looked up. “You just going to sit there and let it happen, are you?”

“Uh?”

“Just going to sit there and let me struggle? Hold this side down, would you? Stop it springing up while I fix it.”

“Oh, right.” Ianto put his finger on a loop of leather and held it. As Howard tied it tight, their hands touched.

Howard’s shirt was only short-sleeved shirt. The backs of his lower arms were sprinkled with a fine hair. For a second, Ianto watched them move, the touch still tingling on his fingers. He thought – if Jack can, why can’t I?

It was only for a moment. Then he knew he wouldn’t.

Anyway, there was that guy from earlier, that Vince – the one with the feathers and eyeshadow. He and Howard were clearly a couple, weren’t they? So Howard was taken, even if for some reason Howard would have done it with him... Which he probably wouldn’t.

Howard was back to concentrating on the leather loop. Ianto noticed how Howard’s lips were wet from the beer. The tip of his tongue was showing to one side, pink and squeezed flat. Ianto imagined Howard looking up and catching him staring right at him. Realising what was going on in his head. Would he be shocked? Perhaps not. Perhaps he’d jump Ianto right now, pin him down across the table. Glasses would go crashing, chairs flying, who cared if anyone saw…

Ianto drew in a ragged breath.

No, it was no good. Even in his fantasy, he hated this. Far too many people watching.

So what about somewhere private? He could bring Howard outside, down by the front of the Bay. A dark, silent spot Ianto knew, somewhere well out of the glare of the streetlights. He’d shove Howard up against a wall, have his trousers open and his hand inside before either of them could draw breath. Howard’s mouth would be wide. Gasping. Begging Ianto not to stop.

Ianto looked down at his hand and realised he was shaking. Slowly, he released his fingers. They ached with the effort.

As he looked up, he caught Howard’s eyes. It sent a shiver straight to Ianto’s groin.

Ianto pushed his seat away with such force it screeched right across the floor. “I’ll go get us more…. you know…” he nodded at the table.

Howard looked at their glasses. His was still almost full, Ianto’s not even half way. “But I only just went.”

“I just… I have to…”

“You’ve gone red,” said Howard, looking Ianto up and down. “What’s up? You’re freaking me out. You’ve gone all weird and clenched up. Stop it.”

“Look, I’ll be back in a minute,” said Ianto, and fled, knocking over his seat on the way.

*

“Clear out your blockage?” asked Howard.

Ianto had decided that as there was still no sign of Jack, and the alternative, after all, was sitting in his lone, empty flat, he might as well return. That was the sole reason he was doing this, he assured himself. There was no other reason at all.

He set down his two superfluous pints and tilted his head towards Howard. “Sorry? What you say?”

“I said your blockage. You got it sorted out? You know, at the gents?”

For one awful moment, Ianto thought Howard had been following him - had somehow witnessed his retreat into a private cubicle, the leaning against the wall, the unzipping of his trousers, the retrieval of his fantasy and the fumbling that had nearly followed. In the end, faced with the sordid surroundings of a public lavatory, he had withheld. But the impulse had been there, and now back in front of Howard, the memory was hideous.

“Dodgy sausage, was it?” asked Howard. “Stodgy banger? Ooh, they’re a killer. I get those all the time.”

Ianto realised what Howard meant and his heart thumped with relief. “Yeah. Absolutely. Dodgy banger… that’s what I had. That was all.”

“Sausages all gone south now?”

“I… uh… can we not talk about it?”

Howard wiggled his eyebrows. “Torpedoes out the aft shaft?”

“Please?”

“Sure thing,” said Howard, and reached for his new pint. “Hey, what we got here? Mmm, more Brains! Tasty fresh Brains!” He rolled his eyes and slackened his jaw and Ianto wondered how many more times Howard was going to do the zombie thing. He was pretty sure that joke had been exhausted by the fifth time round.

“So now, sir. You’ve seen to your sausage blockage… alright, alright, I said I wouldn’t go on about it… but now that’s all done, sir, so why the dismal woes?” Howard reached over to his many-pocketed waistcoat, and put his hand in one of the compartments. He found some granular contents and trickled them on the table. “Come on now, sir. This’ll cheer you up.”

Ianto looked down. “What’s that?”

Howard waved a hand theatrically over his offering. “What do you think it is? Sand!”

Indeed it was, in a small golden pile.

“But not just any sand,” said Howard, wiggling his fingers. “Magical sand! From a magical planet.” He grinned at Ianto, clearly expecting a positive response.

Ianto sighed. Okay, so this was another good reason for hanging out with Howard.

After all, no matter whatever Ianto did tonight, no matter how ridiculously drunk and stupid he became, this was one occasion in which IDI 2309M/7 had got it wrong. With Howard, there was ultimately no sweat. All Howard had to do was start up with one of his little stories – the one about his magical adventures in the land of the coconut people, for instance. Or this new one, about his pile of magical sand. Then, instead the authorities getting all excited about Ianto and his alien Bureau des Étrangers, about extra-governmental activities, unlicensed armouries or unlawful detention of dozens of (literal) aliens, they’d be getting out the straitjackets for this guy instead.

Howard gestured again towards the grains. “Sand! From a magical desert! From a galaxy far, far away! I know, because I was there. I brought back these grains as a keepsake, for my pouchful of memories.”

Ianto looked again at the sand. It appeared perfectly ordinary, the kind you’d get in a builder’s yard, or even in a children’s sand pit.

“In fact,” continued Howard, “and you’ll like this, so gather in close. Those locals on the planet were some highly savvy creatures who saw me how I truly am. They cut through the surface of modern life – oh yes - and saw through to its deeper meaning. Then they anointed me, put me on a throne and worshipped me as their Chosen One.”

“Chosen One?” said Ianto, heart sinking. He hadn’t realised Howard was quite this delusional.

“Well… in a manner of sorts,” said Howard. “I mean, I’m clearly Chosen One material.” His spanner still in one hand, he turned to make a profile. He gave his head a slow-motion toss. “After all, don’t you think I’m worth it?”

Ianto made a tiny, speechless nod.

Next Howard brought out another object - this time hard, sharp and shiny. “So, look at this, sir!”

It appeared to be a normal household screw.

“Another gift from the people of the desert. Very into DIY, those people were.” Howard held up the item, reverently, as though it were a sacred chalice. “A wise folk, I found. They even named a shelving system after me - in gratitude, you know, after I showed them the correct way to insert a ten gauge rawlplug.” Howard pushed the woodscrew through the air to demonstrate, staring at Ianto as he twisted its length. “It’s all about the proper depth of penetration, you know. You need to get adequate expansion once you’re in, or else everything just falls out. Never be sloppy, sir. When I drive something in firmly, oh yes sir, it knows all about it.”

“Uh…. it does?” asked Ianto.

Howard looked piercingly at Ianto. “Of course. It’s all about how you use your tools.” He held the screw out for Ianto’s inspection. As it passed it between them their hands brushed again. This time Howard’s fingers long enough for Ianto to tell that their tips were warm and soft.

“Thanks,” said Ianto. He found that he’d been holding his breath. It made him dizzy. He wondered when he had become so easily affected.

Howard quickly turned away. He threw a suspicious glance at Ianto. “You know, Vince wanted to be Chosen One as well. I would have gone along with that; it was fine with me. It was the desert people wouldn’t let him. Vince wasn’t Chosen One material. He just didn’t make the grade.”

Ianto wondered why Howard kept looking over then rapidly squinting away. Was this some sort of ‘normal people’ come on he wasn’t getting?

“Yeah,” said Howard, sitting back and giving himself an angry scratch along the jawline. “Because that’s the way it definitely happened. I was the Chosen One. Me. Howard TJ Moon. It was me.”

Then, completely ignoring Ianto, he picked up a piece of string and turned his attention back to his bongo. When his back was turned, a couple of glasses had been knocked over the table and his parts had become wet and sticky.

Ianto found he was watching Howard intently. After a second, Howard looked up and caught him.

“Something wrong?”

“Uh…” said Ianto, searching for a reason. “Perhaps there… that part there… that should be stiffer?”

“What?” asked Howard.

“That side of your bongo.” Ianto pointed. “It keeps falling over. You need to increase the tension.”

“Oh, right,” said Howard and went to pull the leather straps tight on that side. For a second they held, then slackened and collapsed again.

“How about using a key?”

“A key?”

“Like on the side of a sardine tin,” suggested Ianto. “A tightening key. You insert it and twist. It adds tension. Maybe this?” He picked up the toy saxophone from earlier. “Insert it into the strings...”

“I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” said Howard, brushing Ianto’s hands away. Howard hooked the toy plastic saxophone into the leather thongs and twisted it a few times. Eventually, the strings became tight enough so that the saxophone was held in place by the strings and would turn no more.

They both surveyed Howard’s handiwork. Now it was not only an undistinguished mess of wood and animal skins, it was also bisected by a cheap plastic toy.

“Try again now,” urged Ianto.

“Don’t rush me!” Howard gave the bongo a few preliminary taps. He lowered his ear to the drum skin, stuck out with his palm and delivered a few more ringing blows. For the first time, the contraption produced something close to a drum-like sound, although still it was muffled and dull.

“It’s pleasing, I’ll give you,” admitted Howard. “Mellow. Soothing to the ear. But of course, there are other considerations to observe.”

“Oh? There are?”

Howard nodded sagely and tapped the ends of his fingers together. “For instance - I ask myself - is this in keeping with the overall aesthetics? If you want my opinion, no. The insertion of a mass production plastic saxophone could be said cheapen the whole organic wooden ambience I have striven so hard to create.” Howard gestured, presumably describing a wooden ambience using the international language of mime. “Plus there’s the matter of portability…. Can Foldaway Bongos be truly be said to be foldaway if every time you want to use them you have to insert or retrieve a smallish saxophone from inside of their works?”

“Well,” admitted Ianto, “it doesn’t have to be a saxophone. It could be anything. If you want to stay organic and woody, you could always use a stick.”

“Well, I might,” said Howard, stiffly drawing himself up, “if I had one. Or perhaps you have a stick, do you? Secreted somewhere about your person?”

He looked Ianto up and down with such intensity that Ianto almost felt molested. He noticed that Howard’s eyes were of an incredible browness. They were also very near.

“No!” said Ianto. “I haven’t got a stick for you!” As he heard his words out loud, he cringed in horror.

But Howard didn’t even seem to notice. He was already back to the bongos, pinging them, and testing their sound on different areas of the drumhead. At each attempt he made a hum of deliberation.

“You know, they do sound better,” said Howard. “Actually, they do. Yes.” He looked again at Ianto, who luckily by this time had taken deep breaths and recovered. “Thanks…. what was your name again… pantso?”

“No problem,” said Ianto. “You’re… welcome. And it’s Ianto.”

“No, really. Lots of help. In fact, now you’ve started…. you couldn’t do something with this little beauty?”

Ianto felt a lump appear in his throat as beneath the table, Howard reached into his nether regions and began to rummage furiously. There was a rustling, a straining, a grunting from Howard, and then a wet pop as whatever it was burst free.

“Ah, here we are,” said Howard, and pulled a tiny item from a pouch on his toolbelt. “And I really have to fix the popper on that pouch of mine some time. Completely smeared in Horn Juice there.”

Ianto couldn’t help but notice that Howard’s trouser waistband had been pushed dangerously down in the struggle. The beginning of a fine no-man’s-land was now clearly visible under Howard’s waistband, darkening as it disappeared underneath. Ianto tried to stop himself checking out what was further below… or at least not any more than he already had. “Uh… so uh…. what is that?”

Howard gave a sigh. “Well, as you see, it’s supposed to be a pygmy trombone. The smallest trombone there is. An incredibly rare item.”

Ianto surveyed the instrument. It was roughly the size of a demi baguette, but broken into bits in a crudely inexpert way.

“Yeah, I was trying to make this one portable as well. But I don’t know…. I’ve been having terrible trouble with the pair of connector nuts just here. No matter how much I squeeze the tubing,” Ianto watched Howard sit the instrument on his lap by his crotch and pump it hard up and down, “or how much Horn Juice I ladle on the area here, nothing works. Both the fittings are just hanging there below, hard as walnuts, mocking me with their tightness. Talk about frustration – hey, I got it.”

Ianto coughed. “Uh…. is… is that right? Um… ”

“Yeah,” said Howard. The instrument was on his lap, metallic tubing resting against bare skin. “I don’t suppose you could take a look at it? It’s not much, all you have to do is wiggle the nuts round a bit. This pair here.” He pointed. “Use your fingers; give them a try. I can’t seem to get them going myself. That should free this up,” he stroked along a length of piping. “Get it going, and it’ll shoot out of its casing.”

Ianto closed his eyes. One part of his mind said this was getting silly, while the other was whirling in a haze of possibilities.

“Of course, you can use my toolbox. And I’ve plenty of lube,” said Howard, not really helping matters on the inside of Ianto’s head.

“No, it’s okay,” said Ianto. “Give it here.” He received Howard’s faulty instrument smack into his open palm. Then he sighed and prepared to get it over with. He took a long drink of beer and prepared himself for the night ahead. “It’s not like I was planning on doing anything else, is it now?”

*

LAST PART COMING UP
Ianto and Howard end up back in the Hub. Certain clothes find themselves discarded.

*

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