Warnings: Nothing really
Spoilers: Season Two thru Something Borrowed (2x09)
Disclaimer: Torchwood, Doctor Who and all their wonderfulness belong to the Mighty Beeb and He Who Must Not Be Named. No infringement, only worship intended! All ©'s to Phil Ford for situations borrowed from Something Borrowed.
Summary: In which Ianto goes shopping for a new wedding dress for Gwen's rather unique situation...
Notes: Happy Sunday y'all - hope everyone had a nice weekend. You can find all the previous chapters of The Sea After a Storm here. This is a sequel to Vizzini’s Rule and To The Pain. Thanks again and forever to my amazing beta and wonderful friend thraceadams for all the help and support and beta work; any mistakes are mine!
The Sea After a Storm: Chapter One Hundred-One
Previously on The Sea After a Storm: Torchwood scrambles to help when Gwen's wedding is threatened by an alien pregnancy...
Ianto slammed out of the bridal shop, the door banging so hard he was surprised the bell didn't fall off its post. He knew his face was so flushed it probably matched his lavender shirt.
When he'd first walked into the shop, he'd been a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of lace, tulle, flowers, pearls and rhinestones, but he had a mission and he was going to complete it. He'd smiled politely at the woman who approached him, both her hands outstretched.
"Welcome," she'd said warmly. "How can we help you today?"
"Well, I need a wedding dress for a woman who's getting married in a few hours. She's about five six, average weight, approximately, oh, let's say eight and half months pregnant, with dark hair and..." His voice had trailed off when he realised everyone in the shop was staring at him.
The shop assistant had snatched her hands back as if he were on fire and covered her mouth.
"Oh... my..." she'd breathed, sounding shocked.
Ianto'd glanced at the other patrons uncomfortably. One of the women had actually covered her young daughter's ears and was looking at Ianto like he was the biggest sinner in the world. He'd felt the flush start to climb his cheeks and tried to salvage the situation.
"Oh, the baby's not mine... that is to say, she's just a friend and, well... um..."
"I don't believe we have anything that can accommodate your... friend," the woman said coldly.
It was at that point Ianto had simply turned and fled. He decided to walk to the next shop, hoping the exercise would calm him down as he revised his strategy. The next shop was an even bigger failure. He walked in and there wasn't a dress in sight. The whole area was set up like a drawing room in a palatial castle. There was a bride standing on a raised dias before a bank of mirrors in a ruffly white dress while several other women giggled together over champagne as they sat on a nearby sofa. A fashionably dressed woman walked out of a discrete door at the back of the shop with several dresses over her arms.
"Let's see how these do," she said sweetly, stepping behind an ornate dressing screen.
Ianto muttered, "Nope," under his breath and snuck out before he caught anyone's eye.
The third shop seemed much more promising. There was a shop assistant ringing up a customer at the front and racks of dresses on hangers arranged by size. Ianto headed for the back of the store where the larger sizes would most likely be located. He found one with an empire waist and, deciding it was the next best thing to actual maternity wear, held it up in front of the mirror to take a closer look.
"Can I help you?"
Ianto spun around, holding the dress in front of him like a shield. "Yeah, I'm looking for a wedding dress for a friend," he said, forcing himself to sound casual.
The shop assistant looked him up and down and gave him a knowing smile. "Of course you are, sir," he said smoothly. "You'd be surprised. We're quite used to men buying for their... friends." The man gave Ianto another smile and headed back to the front of the shop.
Ianto rolled his eyes and hung up the dress. He systematically went through every dress in what he had gauged would be the appropriate size whilst he waited for the shop to empty. Finally the last customer left and Ianto approached the man who had spoken to him earlier, holding three dresses.
"Listen, I... okay, I really am looking for a dress for a friend. She's... um... this tall, average weight, more athletic than delicate but she's... well, gotten bigger. Around here?" he said a little desperately, circling his hand in front of his waist.
"Up the duff?" the man asked bluntly with a kind smile that softened the harshness of the phrase.
"Yes," Ianto said with relief.
"I'm Joshua," the man said, offering his hand to Ianto, holding on a little longer than strictly necessary. "You're a good friend...?"
"Ianto," Ianto said quickly.
"You're a good friend, Ianto." Joshua stepped out from behind the counter and took one of the dresses from Ianto. He held his up so the hem was just brushing the floor and Ianto did the same with the other two.
"Hmm... Good choices since we don't carry anything designed for this situation... actually, no, on second thought, I'd caution against that one, the lace over the satin has no give whatsoever."
"Excellent, thank you," Ianto said, laying the lace dress on the counter.
"What's your instinct say?"
Ianto looked between the two remaining dresses. He gave the one he was holding a little shake. "This one is more elaborate which may distract people from the..."
"Bump?" Joshua offered.
"Exactly. But the other one is more simple and I think Gwen would appreciate something more classic. She's rather traditional, uh... bump notwithstanding."
Joshua smiled. "Sounds like you've made your choice and I have to say it's a good one. The straps are adjustable, see the buttons inside, here? And there's some elasticity to the fabric plus the empire waist which is always a good option in these situations. Any accessories? Gloves? Shoes? No? Let's just ring you up then, shall we?"
Twenty minutes and a thousand pounds later, Ianto was carefully setting the large box with Gwen's new dress in the boot of his car. He headed back to the Hub with a quick stop at Tegan's for a selection of sandwiches and sides. He handed off the dress to Tosh on her way out, stashed the food in the refrigerator and then joined Jack in his office.
"How'd it go?" Jack asked, tossing his pencil on the desk and leaning back in his chair.
"Mission accomplished," Ianto replied. He slipped the folder with the receipt from the inside pocket of his suit jacket and passed it to Jack. "For reimbursement. I'll get you the paperwork later."
Jack snorted. "I have no doubt. What's this?" he asked, flipping through a colourful brochure that was in the folder along with the receipt.
Ianto stepped around the desk to look over Jack's shoulder. "Oh, that must be the full line from the designer. I got..." He turned a few pages. "This one. See anything better?"
Jack flipped back to the front of the brochure and quickly looked through all the dresses. "No, I like that one," he confirmed, turning to look up at Ianto. "Good choice."
Ianto gave Jack a smile. "I estimated Gwen's size from the hub security laser scans. As you know, my dad was a master tailor." The old lie just rolled off his tongue before he realised what he was saying. He ploughed on, not wanting to break the mood. "He could size a man's inside leg measurement by his stride across the shop threshold," he said suggestively.
"Ah, the family eye," Jack replied in kind. "Remind me to test it some time," he added with a seductive smile.
"Well, if... uh... later on..." Ianto stuttered, torn between continuing the game and telling Jack the truth. He didn't have a chance to make a decision; Owen burst into the office calling Jack's name.
"Yeah, brilliant, like that one," Ianto muttered.
He needn't have bothered. Owen was completely focussed on his news.
"We've got a problem."
NOTE: Costume designer Ray Holman experienced difficulty sourcing a maternity wedding dress to accommodate the nine-month baby bump worn by Eve Myles. He remarks that in trying to source three such dresses from bridal shops in Cardiff he was regarded "as if I was the biggest sinner in the world" and ended up designing the dress worn by Gwen himself.
- Torchwood Magazine Yearbook, p. 82
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