For Torchwood Fan Fests' Holiday Gift exchange on Tumblr, for violetmessanges for the prompt: Gwen and Ianto on a mission together.
Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!
Ianto woke early, prepared to have a filling breakfast for once, only to see that he was out of milk. That threw a wrench into the plan, given that Ianto's idea of a healthy breakfast was cereal, so—disappointing.
Ianto yawned, ready to go back to bed for a few more hours of sleep before his usual breakfast of coffee and a pastry from one of Cardiff's well-placed cafes.
It still counted that he'd wanted to have a normal breakfast. He'd tell Jack he tried.
The second time Ianto woke up, it was to the sun streaming through the curtains and the sound of bustling from somewhere outside his bedroom.
It was nine, a perfectly reasonable time to be awake, though Ianto was more sued to already being at the Hub. Instead, Jack had taken the night watch over the Rift, letting Ianto and Gwen get a good night's sleep for the trip ahead.
Soon, Ianto stumbled his way into the kitchen, only slightly surprised at the food in front of him.
"I made pancakes."
Ianto gaped for a second. "But I was out of milk."
Elsewhere in Cardiff, Gwen was waking up from a similar lie-in. Not that she often had the chance, but she woke naturally later than Rhys, and on the lucky occasions—usually Jack-imposed weekends—when she could, she was greeted with hot breakfast. Unlike Ianto, she was not a petulant child when it came to vegetables, so when Rhys presented a fluffy, multicolored omelet, she practically jumped out of bed.
"I love you," she proclaimed around the food.
Rhys chuckled. "I make that every Saturday, love."
"It's not Saturday, though."
"Only a little." Gwen laughed. "Oh, this is brilliant."
Rhys laughed along with her. He'd done the cooking for years, but Gwen always thanked him, told him she loved him, told him she loved the food—and even now, months after their marriage, the works made Rhys light up in a smile that he probably didn't even notice.
Gwen loved that smile—Gwen loved him. It would only be two days, but she would miss Rhys like crazy.
Rob was the last thing Ianto packed. The crowbar was easy to fit in the boot, next to his own small suitcase—black, the same brand he remembered London businessmen lugging around as they complained about flight schedules—and the place he cleared out to put Gwen's.
Jack leaned in behind his shoulder for a better look. "That's done, then?"
Ianto huffed. "You just like seeing me bent over."
"Of course." Jack patted his bottom. "It's a lovely view."
"Wonderful." Ianto rolled his eyes but didn't complain. At this point, Jack's dubious flirting was just part of the deal, and he would miss it over the next two days. It only made sense for Jack to be stocking up on gropes for the short separation.
"You've got your keys?"
Ianto jingled them for effect.
Ianto patted his pockets for it and emerged triumphant, then threw Jack a look. "You definitely felt it in there!"
"Hard hat?" Jack narrowed his eyes when Ianto nodded. "And one for Gwen?"
Ianto rolled his eyes. "Packed. But I doubt we'll need them."
"You're the one that's always going on about being prepared." He grinned when Ianto gave a conceding nod. "Good. Your gun?"
"I'm not about to go waving that about, am I?"
"But you've got it?"
Jack raised his hands defensively. "Just making sure. You'll thank me later. Coffee maker?"
"Now you're just teasing." Ianto crossed his arms and huffed. "Yes."
Gwen struck a pose, modeling her new bikini. "You don't like it?"
"I love it." Rhys grimaced. "But it seems a waste, doesn't it? Bringing such a nice thing on a Torchwood trip? With Ianto?"
"Be happy it's not Jack."
Rhys rolled his eyes. "I am, love. I'm just more thinking of aliens, you know? Would be a shame to get goo on it or something."
Gwen looked down contemplatively. It was a very nice bikini: purple with gold highlights, revealing enough to tempt her husband, containing a secret compartment for a garrote. What every woman dreamed of.
"It's a resort," she said with finality. "It would be odd not to bring one."
"Give us another twirl, then."
Gwen grinned and did that, sashaying around the room and keeping an eye on the clock as she packed everything else. Dress for dinner, extra pair of jeans in case of goo, extra shirt in case of goo, extra gun in case of extra aliens, wide-brimmed sun hat to really sell the 'vacationing socialite' cover... Her toiletries went last into the suitcase—not one of the matching set she and Rhys had for the impossible possibility of an actual holiday—followed by the bikini, folded neatly and covered with, after a moment's deliberation, another gun.
Gwen punched the directions into Ianto's navigation system, then sat back and let Ianto do the work. Despite its looks, the Audi wasn't so different than the SUV—the biggest difference, in fact, was the lack of logo on its side.
A lack of logo that neither Gwen nor Ianto shared. She laughed inwardly and thought of the skin on her right side, emblazoned with the Torchwood logo after a wild night of drinking one night when Jack had been gone. Ianto had the tattoo as well, as had Tosh and Owen. Invisible ink, of course—it wouldn't do to ruin any potential undercover work with such an obvious tell.
"Mr. and Mrs. Brown, is it?" she asked.
"Brown-Smythe, actually." Ianto shot her a look before returning his eyes to the road. "Adds a little spice."
"Oh, my apologies!" Gwen exclaimed, putting on a posh accent and sticking her nose into the air. "Mr. and Mrs. Brown-Smythe, down to a nice resort in South Wales to sort out..." She sighed. "What are we sorting out?"
"Don't know yet," Ianto admitted. "Between setting up the aliases, finding out everything about this resort, and dealing with the invasions, our covers are solid, but our story's a bit flimsy."
"Yeah... So, Mrs. Brown-Smythe, why are we down to the seaside?"
"Is it at the seaside?" Gwen frowned. "I thought there were pools?"
"Both. It's stupid and pretentious."
Gwen hummed. "That's the crowd we're mixing with for two days while we search for the source of a strange alien signal?"
"Right, sorry. So why are we there?"
Gwen scoffed. "You watch sci-fi on a regular basis, Ianto, I don't think you can lecture me about cliches."
When Ianto and Gwen presented themselves at the reception desk, they hadn't yet made up their minds as to their cover. What they knew about Mr. and Mrs. Brown-Smythe could be easily listed: they were rich in a way that annoyed Ianto and Gwen, they had no kids and were allergic to dogs, they managed a successful manhole cover maintenance business but never got involved with the daily work, and had recently finished furnishing a new flat in Cardiff.
Ianto walked slightly behind Gwen as they approached the resort's front desk. The short walk across the lobby revealed several things: the resort did not exaggerate its grandeur or resources, the guests were indeed insufferable and stuck up, and the PDA in Ianto's pocket vibrated as it confirmed the alien signal coming from the premises.
Ianto caught Gwen's eye and nodded, conveying the information, but the topic stayed unexplored as they were met with a blindingly smiling receptionist. "Welcome!"
Ianto smiled his best I-have-never-worked-in-customer-service smile, while Gwen bared her teeth and titled her head to look less threatening. "Hello!"
"We've got a reservation for Brown-Smythe?" Gwen let her voice give an extra lilt on the extra surname. "Our assistant should have gotten it for us."
"Brown-Smythe, of course," the receptionist said as if she hadn't just had to look them up. "Thank you for choosing us."
"It was our pleasure," Gwen gushed, "we really wanted to spend a few days at the seaside, and you seemed... just perfect."
"I'm sure you are going to love it." The receptionist beamed. "And may I just say: congratulations!"
Ianto exchanged a look with Gwen. "Of course!"
"Thank you!" she chirped in turn.
"It's not every day you get married, is it? Your assistant reserved our most luxurious room—the honeymoon suite!" Ianto and Gwen stared as she continued, "King-sized bed, bath with jacuzzi streams, extra bedroom in case of—" she winked "—you know. Room service is always available, just give us a ring. You'll find towels and bathrobes in the suite, but they're also provided upon entrance to any of our three swimming pools—"
Gwen glared as Ianto's sharp elbow dug into her side.
"I know you'll love it here." The receptionist graced them with her widest smile yet. "This is the best resort in Wales—in the world, probably. It's simply out of this world!"
"I'm sure." Ianto nodded as he took the offered keycards. "Thank you."
Gwen's wide smile kept Ianto company as they made their way through the lobby once more, and only dimmed when they ended up alone in the lift. "That was... I don't know. Creepy?"
"Yeah, not... really? Just on the normal side of too chipper, right?"
Ianto nodded. "But we do know one thing: the signal's definitely coming from the hotel. Look." He handed Gwen the PDA, which now flashed blue as it showed the reading. "We're practically on top of it."
"I wish we knew what it said." Gwen titled her head as if that would give her a better perspective. "It's almost saying: come look! We're here! You know? I wish Jack knew what it was."
"Is it that bad to be out with me?"
"No, of course not!"
Ianto laughed. "The last time I followed an odd alien signal, a giant badger was on the other end."
"The window's a definite upgrade." Ianto approached it—it looked out over the coast. "And the view's stunning."
Perhaps, when he had made them newlyweds, Jack had hoped to catch Gwen and Ianto by surprise. Maybe he'd wanted to give them a extra nice bed. But the wonderful suite—while useful for sleeping and laying out their equipment—was almost not worth it. Newlyweds were supposed to always be together, celebrating their love. It was already suspicious that they weren't spending their time alone in their room. It was almost impossible to split up and sleuth around the place.
Cliche or not, Gwen was still fond of her marriage troubles idea. They would be able to walk around alone while faking a fight, to talk to anyone they pleased under the guise of flirting or complaining.
The receptionist kept shooting them glances when they passed through the lobby, each trying to get an accurate read on the signal.
They had first stumbled onto it two days previously, and because neither Jack nor Tosh's leftover tech had been able to decode it, now had two days to find its source—it was not safe to let such obvious beacons go on for too long.
Thankfully, because it was an obvious signal, Gwen was sure that it wouldn't take her and Ianto the full two days to find it. The way she saw it, they would have it figured out by midnight and would spend the next day relaxing. There were three pools here! Gwen wasn't sure if they differed from each other, and she wanted the time to find out.
Ianto was having no luck. He had checked the top floors while Gwen had taken the lower ones; he had lost the coin toss to decide who would explore the creepy basement and had only found out that it was actually quite nice; and yet the signal was strongest in the lobby. Which was odd, because the lobby was crowded with unsuspecting tourists and holiday-makers, and it made no sense for the signal to be so clear and yet unnoticeable.
Or... it did make sense. Of course the beacon was hidden in plain sight. It was just annoying.
The lobby was never empty. And they needed to search it.
They reconvened over dinner, which—as part of the newlywed package—was included in the original reservation and was already expensed to Torchwood.
Gwen dug into her second slice of tiramisu with glee. "I know we're not here on holiday, but it really feels like it."
"You spent all day looking for alien tech." Ianto didn't bother to lower his voice. In his experience, whispering made people look more interesting to potential eavesdroppers. "That's a holiday?"
"It's less running than looking for aliens."
Ianto tilted his head concedingly. "And the basement wasn't creepy."
"And the basement wasn't creepy!" Gwen grinned. "See? Holiday."
"Hooray. Now what are we going to do about the lobby? Someone's at the desk overnight—it's how services get done. And they never leave."
"It's a mark of a good receptionist." Ianto's tone indicated that he was a good receptionist, but he left his tourist office post all the time. Maybe it didn't count if he left to save Cardiff. "You can't get them away for anything."
"Could fake a medical emergency?"
"We're Torchwood, we don't do subtle!"
"That's fair. Medical emergency it is." Ianto reached across the table and took a spoonful of Gwen's cake. "That's good."
Midnight found Ianto and Gwen in the stairwell. They wore their pajamas and slippers but had chosen clothes that best concealed their guns and shoes that were easiest to run in.
Ianto led the way into the lobby—he would distract the receptionist while Gwen would find a good moment for her medical emergency. In between playing doting husband, Ianto would find out where exactly the signal was coming from.
The plan was set.
Gwen gave the sign to move.
Ianto just hoped that they wouldn't be stuck searching forever.
Except when he tiptoed into the lobby, it was not the dark and vast room he expected. Instead, a soft green glow emanated from the front desk, illuminating the receptionist bent over the light source.
"Gwen!" he hissed.
Instantly, she was at his side. "Oh."
The PDA in Ianto's hand helpfully chirped: the transmission source was in front of them.
Gwen raised her gun. "Torchwood."
The receptionist jumped up, her hands raised defensively and her eyes wide in fear. "I'm not hurting anyone!"
"We'll be the judge of that." Gwen approached, Ianto flanking her. "Who's the message for?"
"I'm not buying that, who's the message for?" She kept the receptionist in her sights as Ianto went behind the desk to check out the transmission defiance. "This beacon's been going off loud and clear for two days—we don't know what it says, so we don't know who you're calling. But if we can see it, so can others. Whatever army you're calling, this ends. Now."
"Shush!" Gwen glared at Ianto. She turned back to the terrified receptionist. "Well?"
"I swear, it's nothing." She swallowed nervously when Gwen didn't relent. "I swear! It's just an advertisement!"
"For the resort!" The receptionist gave a small gesture around the room. "It's a fantastic place. My father built it. He came to Earth years ago, and everyone was so kind to him. He wanted to give back. We've grown this place from one small bed and breakfast, and now look at it!"
"Exactly!" She sighed. "I wanted to advertise it more. Get more of our people to come to Earth. Get more business, create a larger tourist community."
"So a business venture and not a signal of invasion?" Gwen exchanged a look with Ianto. "I don't think we need to bring her in."
"No," Ianto agreed. "But this can't keep going off. It probably won't be just tourists coming here. Is this targeted to just your home planet?"
The receptionist shook her head.
"Can you do that, though?" Gwen put her gun back into her waistband. "Encrypt the message, make it audible just to people who wouldn't harm the planet?"
"I… I think so." The receptionist nodded eagerly. "Just give me a day or two, and—yes! Absolutely!"
Gwen threw the receptionist a look she'd learned from studying her mother. "Let's consider this a slap on the wrist, then."
"All this worry," Ianto said as he stood in the doorway between their rooms, "for a slap on the wrist."
"We don't exactly write tickets."
Ianto scoffed. "Imagine that."
"Still—" Gwen rolled over in bed and pulled the covers tight "—it might have been anticlimactic, but there's three pools, complimentary meals. We don't have to go home yet."