At Dawn, Stand-to

"Are you going to just leave him there?" Ianto asked, indicating the prone body on the trolley.

Owen shrugged dismissively. "He'll be alright. I think it's a bit like fairground goldfish. Jack prefers to let him come up to room temperature a bit before we shock him back to consciousness. Less chance of anything snapping off if he panics."

"Doesn't sound very scientific." He watched as with calm deliberation his medical colleague studied the cyan readouts from the monitors. Cryo was always blue. It seemed to Ianto that whoever had designed the frost tubes back in the 1900s had lacked imagination when it came to colour. To his mind coldness ought to be lilac: the shade of dead petals. The paleness of morbidity.

"Personally, " the doctor said, flicking a frosted nipple with sadistic glee. "Personally, I think he just comes in here to leer at Tommy and do unmentionable things to his unresponsive body." For good measure and mindful of symmetry he leaned over and flicked the other one.

"If I'm ever lying there and wake up with a sore chest I'll knee you in the bollocks."

Owen sniggered. "Just watch when Jack comes in. Bet you anything his trousers tent." He eyed Tommy with professional discourtesy. Twenty three with a figure just edging out of puppy fat. Enough body hair to tickle Jack's fancy but not enough to make him sneeze. Innocent in all things intimate. "He's always gone for blokes with chunky necks."

Self consciously Ianto tugged at his tight collar. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

The doctor looked up with him with a knowing smugness. "You don't have to worry. Our Tommy's got more of a shine for Tosh than our Captain." He dropped a probe into a kidney tray with a loud clatter.

"Virgin then."

"Undoubtedly. You know the first time I brought him round the shock of the defibrillator pads made him cream in his pyjamas." He considered for a second or two. "Made Jack's day, if not Tosh's. I think she was hoping he'd save it for later."

Ianto's eyebrows shot up. "Seriously? I can't see our Jack allowing her to fraternise with a lab rat."

"He'd never let anyone take what he couldn't have for himself."

"You're a cynical bastard, Owen Harper." Fingers tapped a sailor's hornpipe on the metal banister. "I like that in a colleague." He gave the doctor a wintery smile just as the door behind him blew open with what best could be described as eagerness.

"Gentlemen," Jack Harkness said with heavy irony, coming to stand alongside Ianto. "How's our young guest?" There was sheen to his brow which could have been taken as a sign of exercise.

"Pretty much thawed out." Owen made a play of checking a limp wrist for a pulse. "Blood's pumping to all the right places." He gave an obvious glance at the small dark bulge in the man's white trousers. "Do you want me to bring him around now?"

"I think it might be best to give him another half an hour just to be safe." Jack's mouth twisted in an odd way. "You two go off and get something to eat. I'll keep an eye on Tommy."

"It's okay, Jack. I don't mind staying here."

"No, no. You and Ianto go and have a rest. I insist. Go and see what Suzie's cooked up." Then with a sharp tone: "Sore back, Ianto?"

Caught out Ianto straightened up immediately but couldn't prevent a slight blush reaching his cheeks.

"Was I right or was I right?" hissed Owen sotto voce as he ushered the Welshman out through the door.

"I'd say it looks as if you were seventy percent correct."

Then the door snicked shut, closing out the sound of Jack's breathing, and the softer susurrations of the cryogenic pumps.