Trois Gymnopédies

Pas de deux

Footsteps sink into the coarse sand leaving wet hollows on the beach. He's too close to the sea and his boots are uncomfortably squelchy. To warm his toes he wriggles them in the trapped water but it is a slow process this cold night. Other times he'd be safely at home with a glass of chilled beer and a blaring hifi. Tonight is for reflection, for drinking in the moment, for dancing in the dunes.

And they do dance, unofficially. From the air they leave patterns on the wet sand like a honey bee's trail; figure eights around the old groynes; never touching, never quite eye-to-eye. Uphill towards the road an old hound of mixed parentage watches them with lolling tongue as they weave their masquerade ballet in pools by the foreshore.

It will rain very soon. The darkening sky already presages a downpour. His companion's shirt billows in the wind, a chequered blue sail. Behind the material is an area of mottled shadow. It hurts Ianto to think about it, to be reminded of how inhuman true kindness is.

The rain starts, in slow and ponderous droplets, splashing musically into the lakes created by their footprints. Luke’s shirt soaks up the deluge, sticking to his body and accentuating muscle tone, his slimness, the scar. If it had been warmer Ianto might have let him take his hand and tug him insistently into the scrub by the old lighthouse. Tonight he’s merely worried his friend may catch a chill.



Don't kill the messenger, he though, dimpling the meniscus on his instant coffee with a gentle blow. The man in the RAF costume examined the report studiously, line by line. Apart from a narrowing of his brow there was no recognisable response. He sipped the foul liquid gingerly, keeping his eyes on the silent figure; if circumstances permitted it he would have tipped the whole ghastly cup into the nearest pot plant and feigned satisfaction. No such luck.

He'd been there for almost an hour now, answering the most mundane questions about his ability to type, file and shoot from the hip. That last one had taken him by surprise. He wasn't sure if the innuendo was deliberate or accidental. Certainly his marksmanship may not have been up to Olympic standard but he could definitely fell an assailant at fifty paces. And his driving was excellent too, thank you very much. Now the interview appeared to have gone the way of a Mexican standoff. He'd had the most appalling concoction thrust into his hands by way of refreshment whilst the man 'went over the paperwork'.

His prospective boss seemed genuinely friendly, if more towards the cheesy end of the scale. He guessed the mirrors in his house would be well polished. The old phrase of his mam came to mind: if he was chocolate he'd eat himself. No wedding ring he noticed. Was that significant? There was an ancient battered photograph on the desk. Judging by the woman's hair cut and stark three-piece trouser suit she was more likely to be his grandmother than a significant other. Did the man have a thing about uniforms? If so there was a theatrical supplier in Cardiff he might be interested in. It did a nice line in WREN outfits for the larger frame.

"I think the form is in order," he said, then cringed at how loud his voice sounded in the confined space. Still no reaction. I wonder, he thought with a sudden impishness, and loosened his tie, fingers flicking open the top two buttons on his white shirt. The man looked up briefly then tipped his head towards the sheets again, biting down on a smile. Gotcha, thought Ianto smugly. Now how badly do I want this posting?

He let a feline yawn escape his lips, arms stretching towards the concrete ceiling and allowing his neatly tucked shirt to ride up and expose a small hairy section of stomach. This time there was no hiding the man's attention. "I also make damn fine coffee, sir. It's in the DG's recommendation, just below the bit that says I'm wonderfully flexible."

"Umm," said the man, clearly not someone used to being lost for words. "How are you at group dynamics?"

"Well, that depends," Ianto answered slyly, "on just how flexible I'm expected to be."


Lobster quadrille

When the dogs of war were let slip so unfortunately were his bowels.

"Chrissake," hissed the voice from outside the cubicle door, "try to be a man." He could hear Lisa grinding her heels into the cheap floor tiles. "Have you got a gun?"

Gun, thought Ianto glumly. His hands shook on the toilet roll. The end of the world was nigh and he was probably going to die with his trousers around his ankles. An ignominious end to a pedestrian life.

"I'm going to find us weapons."

As if that would make a difference. He half suspected he'd be more confident with a pot of steaming Java to throw over someone. "Hang on." With an effort he steadied his hands long enough to unlatch the door. Come on, Yan, he told himself, pretend you're Indy and the creatures in the foyer are only Nazis.

Lisa's eyes bore down on him. "Now what? We're sitting ducks here!" Of all the pretty women in the office he had to attract a latter-day Boudicca. He should have taken Wendy out instead. They could have happily cowered in the basement until the roof collapsed, safely out of the way of all that testosterone-lead bravura.

"Let me wash my hands first." He tottered over to the nearest sink and plunged his hands into the scalding stream from the hot tap. The pain jolted his mind back into gear. At least now I can have a clean death.

When he turned around to face her she was staring wide-eyed at him. A bead of sweat had trickled down her neck and was glistening like a jewel on her dark skin. She smelled of fear. A huge hand gripped her shoulder.

Only when the silver thing had thrown him all the way across the room and the cubical walls had fallen on him and everything had started to darken into a cliché did he realise he had a hard-on.