Author: Erin Giles
Disclaimer: Torchwood is the intellectual property of the BBC. Rhiannon, Finn and Rona, however, belong to me.
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Rhiannon, Finn, Rona
Summary: The kids have chicken pox, and being confined to quarantine has allowed Finlay to add to his comic repertoire, much to the annoyance of Ianto.
A/N: This is for pinkfairy727, electrictoes and aranellaurelot because they asked for Finn fic and they’re all a bad influence when it comes to that boy! Special thanks to cailenbraern for looking this over, and putting up with the bad jokes too. This is part of my Footprints in the Sand series, so in case you’re confused: Ianto has a sister, Rhiannon, who lives with him, as do her two kids, Finlay and Rona. Jack also lives with Ianto, because this is one of those happily ever type universes where there are fairytale endings!
‘Welcome to quarantine.’
Rhiannon greeted Jack on the doorstep of the house, her hair scraped back into an untidy ponytail. She looked exhausted.
‘Quarantine?’ Jack enquired, worried that Ianto had picked something up and brought it home with him last night. He’d been slightly concerned when Ianto had called in sick that morning but been unable to do anything about it at the time since he and Owen had been chasing Weevils down Lloyd-Gregory Avenue, dodging the traffic of early morning rush-hour.
‘Ianto not tell you?’ Rhiannon asked, eyebrow quirking slightly, a smirk spreading onto her lips, which made Jack worry more rather than belay his fears that it was something deadly.
‘No,’ Jack answered slowly, peering through the door over Rhiannon’s shoulder just as a whiney, ‘Mam!’ drifted down the stairs towards them.
‘You had chicken pox?’ Rhiannon asked instead of answering him. Jack just raised an eyebrow in question. ‘I ain’t looking after any more, so you can only come in if you’ve had it.’
‘I’m immune,’ Jack told her quickly, if only to stop her glaring. She shifted back to allow him entrance to the house. Jack’s first thought was that World War 3 had broken out while he’d been away but he chose not to voice his opinion as he glanced round at the bombsite of Ianto’s house.
‘Both the kids sick then?’ Jack enquired, assuming now that he’d misheard Ianto this morning when he said he was sick.
‘Yeah, two kids who won’t do what they’re told when it comes to not scratching and one big kid who’s playing the role of drama queen,’ Rhiannon shot back as she stooped to pick up Owen the rabbit who was currently lying half on the bottom step of the stairs, calamine lotion smeared over his ears.
‘Lovely,’ Rhiannon commented as she wiped her calamine lotion hand on her jeans that already seemed to be smeared with the stuff.
‘Mam!’ came the disgruntled cry of Finn as he appeared at the top of the stairs, rubbing at his arm underneath his pyjamas.
‘Stop scratching, Finlay!’ Rhiannon told him, sounding thoroughly fed up. Jack guessed that Rhiannon had been keeping up an unremitting mantra of ‘Don’t scratch’ for as long as the kids had been sick.
‘But it itches!’ Finn whined in return. Rhiannon looked at her watch, her mouth moving silently as she did some quick maths. ‘Come on, I’ll give you another antihistamine,’ she said as she ushered Finn back up the stairs. Jack shrugged off his jacket and toed off his boots before following them.
‘Can I tell Uncle Jack my jokes then?’ Finn asked as he started rubbing his whole body against the banister as he waited for his mother and Uncle Jack to ascend the stairs.
‘It’s too late tonight, Finn, you can tell him tomorrow,’ Rona said as grabbed her son by both arms, guiding him towards the bathroom.
‘Ianto’s not had chickenpox?’ Jack finally enquired, putting two and two together as he hovered outside the bathroom door.
‘Nope. He was away with Mam visiting Nan in Tenby the week before I got it and when Dad found out that I had chickenpox Mam refused to come home until I wasn’t infectious anymore,’ Rhiannon said, emerging from the bathroom a moment later and steering a drowsy Finn back towards the bedroom. ‘I think he’s busy cursing Mam now,’ Rhiannon said as she passed Jack, handing him a bottle of calamine lotion. ‘You can play nursemaid.’ As if that was the end of the matter, Rhiannon shut the bedroom door behind her, leaving Jack stood on the landing feeling like he’d somehow been tricked.
He entered Ianto’s bedroom with some trepidation but was somewhat surprised to find Ianto – free of spots – sprawled half naked on top of the bedcovers. He stood in the doorway for a moment, the light from the landing leaking into the blackness of Ianto’s bedroom. Ianto groaned.
‘Your sister says you’re sick,’ said Jack.
‘I’m dying,’ Ianto croaked, not opening his eyes as he pulled the duvet closer to his chest.
Jack tutted. ‘We’ll have to measure you up for a coffin then.’
Jack took a couple of steps into the room, moving to the bedside table to switch the light on. Ianto immediately recoiled, shoving his head under a pillow as he complained with vehemence.
‘Good luck,’ Rhiannon called as she passed by the bedroom door in the hall. Jack turned towards her, but she was already gone, descending the stairs to the living room and the bottle of wine that was no doubt waiting for her.
‘Switch it off,’ Ianto barked when it was clear Jack wasn’t getting the message. Jack, however, was busy looking Ianto over for a rash. There was a patch of white spots forming on his upper back, but other than that, Ianto seemed free of the disease. Unless, of course, you counted the over exuberant act he was putting on. Jack eventually switched the light out and placed the bottle of calamine lotion on the bedside table with a clatter. Ianto’s head appeared out from under the pillows, regarding the bottle with some scepticism.
‘I don’t have a rash, yet,’ Ianto said. Jack made a noise in back of his throat but didn’t say anything on the matter. He’d attack Ianto later when he was asleep.
‘I hate my Mam,’ Ianto grumbled as Jack shoved his hands in his pockets, smiling to himself.
‘Uncle Jack?’ Finn was at the door the bedroom, still looking sleepy eyed and rubbing himself against the doorframe, Owen the Rabbit in one hand as he shuffled across the carpet.
‘Shouldn’t you be in bed, kid?’ Jack said, picking Finn up and sighing slightly as the boy rubbed his cheek against the material of Jack’s shirt.
‘I wanted to tell you and Uncle Ianto some jokes,’ Finn said. Jack crossed to the armchair in the room, pulling his own dirty laundry, and Ianto’s, from it before sitting down, Finn in his lap.
‘Just a few, then,’ Jack said, waiting patiently for Finn to start his comic routine.
‘Knock knock,’ Finn started.
‘Who’s there?’ came Ianto’s dulcet tones from the bed. He’d clearly heard enough jokes to write a book throughout the course of the day, and it was indubitable that his patience was wearing thin.
‘Boo who?’ Jack asked.
‘No need to cry, it’s only a joke,’ Finn said, giggling slightly as Ianto smothered his groan within the pillow he was hugging. It was clear that Finn hadn’t changed his repertoire from the afternoon show.
There was no sound from the bed now, Ianto’s face still turned into a pillow.
‘Twit two who?’
Finn laughed. ‘You sound like an owl.’ Jack laughed too. It had been so long since he’d heard simple childish jokes.
‘Knock knock,’ said Jack, a smile breaking out on Finn’s face that his Uncle Jack seemed to be more receptive towards his jokes than his Uncle Ianto had been.
‘Who’s there?’ Finn asked, keen to add to his library.
‘Quacker another bad knock knock joke and I’m leaving.’ Jack was tickling Finn now, and the little boy was shrieking in laugher as Ianto groaned and crawled from the bed. Jack and Finn ignored him as he stumbled towards the en-suite, shutting the door behind him as Jack and Finn continued to tell bad jokes to one another.
‘Why are pirates pirates?’ Finn asked. They’d played pirates last week. Ianto had been made to walk the plank in his own back garden and Rhiannon had told him off later for dripping all over the clean kitchen floor.
'I don't know, why are pirates pirates?'
‘Because they arrrrrr,’ Finn said, trailing off into a quiet giggle.
‘What did the sick chicken say?’ Jack asked.
Finn shrugged, yawning against Jack’s shoulder.
‘I have the people-pox!’ Finn gave a half-hearted giggle, yawning again.
‘Who’s there?’ Finn said sleepily.
There was a pause where Finn tried to remember what followed in the joke sequence, his eyes already closed as he leant against his Uncle Jack’s shoulder. ‘Time who?’
‘Time for bed for you,’ Jack finished, gathering Finn up in his arms and moving out of his and Ianto’s bedroom. He moved down the corridor, Finlay hanging on round Jack’s neck with minimal of effort, Owen dangling down his back, one ear grasped firmly in Finn’s hand. Rona, Finn’s younger sister, was already curled up in her cot, free of blankets and stuffed toys, the only thing adorning her young frame was a nappy as she wriggled unconsciously in her sleep. Jack placed Finn down on the bed on top of covers, shifting Owen the Rabbit round so he was face up, staring at the ceiling with unblinking eyes.
When Jack got back to their bedroom, Ianto was still in the en-suite. Jack knocked on the door.
‘You okay in there?’ Jack listened for a reply, but it was either too quiet for him to hear, or non-existent.
Jack knocked again. ‘Ianto?’ He pushed open the door, only to find it sticking half way, a feeble ‘ow’ drifting out to him when he tried pushing it again. He peered round the doorframe to find Ianto half sprawled on the floor, his foot impeding the path of the door and hindering Jack’s entrance into the bathroom. Ianto’s head was resting on the porcelain of the toilet bowl, his arms circled round it to keep him from slipping to the floor.
‘Not being a drama queen then,’ Jack observed as Ianto’s stomach heaved. Jack pulled the cord to turn the light above the sink on, his eyes catching sight of the white and red lines already adorning Ianto’s back where he’d scratched with blunted nails.
‘You’re not supposed to scratch,’ Jack reprimanded, reaching out to stop Ianto’s hand on its path to his back.
‘It itches,’ Ianto said, face turned towards Jack as sweat dribbled down his nose, mixing with the bile that lingered on Ianto’s chin. Jack reached for the washcloth that was hanging over the sink, soaking it and wringing it out before wiping Ianto’s nose and chin. Ianto shuddered slightly as Jack rinsed out the cloth and wiped it across Ianto’s back and shoulders too. Ianto sighed in approval.
‘Have you been like this all day?’ Jack asked, rinsing the cloth and repeating his ministrations to try and cool Ianto down further.
‘Rhiannon left me to die in peace for most of the day. Kids are sick too,’ said Ianto.
‘Yeah, they appear to be coping better than you are though,’ Jack commented, not a dig, just an observation.
‘Adults aren’t supposed to have chicken-pox,’ Ianto defended. ‘We’re supposed to get it when we’re kids, catch it from our sister’s. Not spend an extra week in Tenby with your Nan and Mam watching re-runs of Pobol y Cwm.’
‘Well if you want to take a trip down memory lane,’ Jack said.
‘I’d rather watch Eastenders.’ Jack’s face lit up slightly at that.
‘And I’m not watching that either,’ said Ianto, reaching out a hand lethargically to flush the toilet. ‘I don’t care how hot whats-his-face is, I’m not watching depressing, repetitive, mind-numbing drama. More death happens in Albert Square than it does in Midsomer Murders, and really, why do people keep moving there when somebody dies every week?’
Jack raised an eyebrow, rinsing out the washcloth again and placing it over the back of Ianto’s neck to try and lower his temperature somewhat, when it was clear it was spiking.
‘Done being sick?’ Jack asked as Ianto struggled to his feet, swaying back and forth slightly as the washcloth dropped with a thud into the bath. Ianto gave a brief nod, already stumbling out the bathroom back towards the bed. Jack rolled his eyes, reaching for the washcloth, rinsing it out a final time and following Ianto into the bedroom. He placed it on the back of Ianto’s neck again.
‘Want me to put some calamine lotion on to stop you itching?’ Jack asked. Ianto gave a faint noise of affirmation and Jack cracked open the bottle, retrieving some cotton wool from the bathroom.
‘Knock knock,’ came muffled from the bed as Jack started dabbing on the white lotion in patches on Ianto’s back.
‘Who’s there?’ Jack asked, a slight smile on his face.
‘Doctor,’ Ianto said after a long moment. Jack had to reach out and switch the bedside lamp on, allowing him to see the patches of red and white skin a little clearer in the dim light.
There was silence for a long time as Jack continued to plaster Ianto’s back white.
‘Ianto? Doctor who?’ Jack prompted, but when Jack looked down at Ianto his eyes were closed and his mouth was open slightly in sleep, leaving Jack to make up his own punch line to the joke.