TITLE: Miss You Most At Christmas
AUTHOR: Erin Giles
DISCLAIMER: Torchwood is property of the BBC and RTD.
WORDS: 4590
SUMMARY: Set in my slightly AU 'Footprints In The Sand' world. Christmas is a time to queue in shopping malls, to put whipped cream on top of your mocha, to stuff snow down the back of someone's jacket, to sing Christmas Carols you don't know the words to; because at Christmas it's all the little things you miss.
AUTHORS NOTES: Although this is set in my 'Footprints In The Sand' universe I don't think you need to read the others in the series to read this. This is also a Christmas present for my wonderful beta. Merry Christmas Sam! :) And Merry Christmas everyone else!

"Are you still coming Christmas shopping this weekend?" Ianto asked Jack from where he was filing away their latest case. Jack was leaning against the wall in the archives, waiting for Ianto to finish up so they could go home. It had been a long day; Jack had died twice, neither of them particular pleasant and Ianto had been kidnapped – still, it made a change from Gwen.

"Well I was hoping that the end of the world was going to happen so I could get out of it, but I don't think even I'm that lucky." Jack groused, shoving his hands in his pockets as he continued to watch Ianto, sleeves rolled up and top button undone.

"It won't take long, I promise." Ianto tried to reassure, glancing back over his shoulder at Jack for a moment before he went back to flicking through files, trying to find the right one. "A couple of hours at most, and I'll treat you to lunch." Ianto tried to encourage. "Anyway, you've got to buy Christmas presents too."

"Nope," Jack replied almost immediately, finally pushing himself off the wall and moving towards Ianto as he watched him shutting the filing cabinet. "Already done all my Christmas shopping." Jack told him proudly as he slid his arms around Ianto's waist, pulling him close and resting his chin on Ianto's shoulder.

"You have?" Ianto asked, surprised at Jack's efficiency.

"Yup, the wonders of the Internet and home delivery." Jack enthused, turning his head slightly to kiss the curve of Ianto's neck just below his ear.

"Who's home?" Ianto asked sceptically.

"Well," Jack started sheepishly, "yours because I didn't think you'd appreciate accepting deliveries here." Jack punctuated his sentence with another kiss, this time to Ianto's jaw.

"Hmmm," Ianto hummed in slight annoyance. He didn't blame Jack though, Jack practically did live at Ianto's now, although they'd never really talked about Jack moving in, it had just sort of happened and Ianto couldn't recall when now. One moment Ianto's toothbrush was alone in the holder, the next minute it had Jack's blue one nestled next to it, taking up space.

"I can't believe they give this to kids to read," Jack voiced. They were stood in the Early Learning Centre, right at the back looking at the rows of books in front of them. Jack was currently browsing one entitled, 'The Dirty Little Tractor'.

"It's basically porn," Jack said, rather too loudly for somewhere like the Early Learning Centre, causing a woman at Ianto's left shoulder to look sharply at Jack and then Ianto, like it was his fault Jack was voicing his rather loud and unsavoury opinions. It didn't stop Jack though.

"I mean, look at this," Jack said, shoving the book underneath Ianto's nose so Ianto had no option but to look. "The dirty little tractor came home all wet." Jack quoted from the book and Ianto had to reign in a giggle as the woman beside him gave out a little huff before turning and whisking away to the counter. Ianto hoped she hadn't gone to report 'the two perverts at the back of the store' to security.

"If that isn't porn I don't know what is," Jack said again, closing the book and putting it back down on the shelf.

"Well things have different meanings when you're a kid, you just take everything at face value." Ianto shrugged, picking up the 'Hungry Caterpillar' from the shelf and flicking through a couple of pages. He was sure his niece, Rona, already had that book.

"I remember my Mam gave me Christina Rossetti's 'Goblin Market' when I was a kid to read and I just thought it was a lovely fairy story about Goblin's and two sister's going to buy fruit from them." Ianto put the book back on the shelf, glancing down at other titles that he'd never heard of. "Turns out it's full of sexual connotations where one of the sister's gets raped and there's definite lesbianism going on."

"And you tell me off for walking round the house naked," Jack replied quickly as Ianto picked up another book.

"Yes, well Christina Rossetti is slightly more subtle about corrupting innocent children than you." Ianto chided, finally deciding that he'd maybe get Rona something other than a book for Christmas.

Jack rolled his eyes as Ianto moved away from the books to go and look at the craft sets on the other wall. He'd already bought his nephew, Finlay, a fire engine that Jack had spent a large portion of the queue playing with, now carrying it along with his sister, Rhiannon's, present – Season Two of Gavin and Stacey. He'd struggled over something for his father before a pair of tickets to the first six nations match in the New Year had been offered to him which Ianto thought his old man would appreciate, a part of him secretly hoping that his father would let him have the second ticket. He'd also got Gwen a necklace he'd known her to be coveting for quite a while, and Rhys a bottle of Pendryn whisky since they were going round theirs for Boxing Day.

"Are we almost done?" Jack whined from beside Ianto, shifting from one foot to the other as Ianto finally made his decision, picking up a jewellery making kit that Ria would no doubt kill Ianto for and moan about hovering up beads well into the New Year. He found he didn't care though, like Jack he was losing patience with Christmas shopping and belatedly wished he'd had Jack's foresight and ordered his off the Internet as well.

"Yeah, come on. I'll pay for this and then I believe I owe you lunch." Ianto voiced making his way over to the counter where the woman who had glared at them earlier was now having a row with the cashier over the price of something.

It wasn't until they were sat in Starbucks later on, watching the Christmas shoppers pass by the window with large mugs of coffee that Ianto suddenly felt like he had forgotten to buy a present for someone. He knew he hadn't bought anything for Jack yet, but he already had that one sussed, just needed to get rid of Jack in order to buy it. There was someone else though, he was sure.

"What colour's the sky?" Jack asked him, blowing the top of his Americano to try and cool it somewhat.

"What?" Ianto asked, startled out of his daze.

"What colour's the sky on the planet you're on?" Jack prompted again.

"Sky blue pink with tartan borders." Ianto replied sarcastically, causing Jack to chuckle into his mug. Ianto went back to staring out the coffee shop window, watching as a mother tried to juggle a pushchair with several thousand bags on the back. She was trying to placate the child in the seat, probably trying to get it to stay in the seat so she could use it as a counter weight for all the Christmas presents on the back.

"Anything interesting going on on your planet then?" Jack pressed, watching Ianto as he continued to gaze distractedly out the window.

"I'm just trying to think who I've forgotten to buy a present for." Ianto voiced.

"Me?" Jack asked quickly. Ianto rolled his eyes.

"Oh, yeah!" Ianto said, looking at Jack, fooling him for a moment before that cheeky grin was back on his face. "Don't worry I haven't forgotten you, yours is already sorted."

Jack gave a triumphant grin before taking a sip of his coffee, shrugging slightly.

"Don't know then. You've got everyone I can think of, unless you've got more relatives that I don't know of, or shock horror, actual friends." Jack teased before picking up the fork on the plate next to the remainder of Ianto's chocolate cake and helping himself.

"It's probably no one." Ianto shrugged, ignoring Jack's jibe about him having no friends and taking the fork from Jack, gouging out another forkful of the cake. "Just that nagging feeling like you've forgotten something but you can't quite remember what."

"Myfanwy?" Jack suddenly asked, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"I got a bar of Green and Blacks Dark when I was at Morrisons the other day." Ianto smirked. "Although I think I might forgo the wrapping paper this year. Sellotape gives her indigestion."

"Hello?" Ianto's voice was hoarse as he answered the phone. It was just after eleven in the morning, but Ianto believed he deserved a lie in since he'd only crawled into bed four hours ago.

"Uncle Ianto?" Finn's excited voice came down the phone as Ianto felt Jack pulling on the back of Ianto's t-shirt, encouraging him to come back to bed.

"Have you looked outside?" Finn asked when Ianto didn't say anything. Ianto turned round slightly, trying to see out his bedroom window through the half closed curtains, but all he could see was the stark white sky before he was distracted by the half asleep Jack still tugging pathetically on the hem of Ianto's t-shirt, his eyes closed.

"Uncle Ianto?" Finn prompted when Ianto didn't say anything.

"Hang on, I'll go and look." Ianto muffled a yawn before he pulled himself up from the bed, crossing over to the window as he rubbed sleepily at the back of his neck.

"It's snowed!" Finn suddenly screeched, unable to contain his excitement anymore as Ianto reached the window, peering out through curtains at the untouched winter wonderland that was his back garden.

"So I see," Ianto replied eventually. There was a long pause in which Ianto watched the kids next door attacking each other with snowballs before it suddenly clicked in his exhausted brain why Finn was calling him.

"I tell you what, why don't you ask your Mum to bring you round after lunch and you, me and Jack can build a snowman in the back garden. How does that sound?" Ianto prompted. Finn gave a cheer of excitement before he garbled something to his mother in the background.

"Mam says that she'll bring lunch with us if you want and we can come round in an hour." Finn told Ianto. Ianto looked back at the bed where Jack was still lying, although he had rolled over so he was facing Ianto, his eyes barely open.

"Tell her that's fine, we'll see you in an hour." Ianto replied cheerily before he hung up.

"Snowman building?" Jack asked as Ianto put his phone down on Jack's side of the bed before he was crawling back onto the bed over Jack, much to the Captain's displeasure.

"They don't have a back garden at their new place." Ianto replied, pulling the duvet up over him and wrapping himself round Jack like he was a hot water bottle.

"Didn't you tell them to come over in an hour?" Jack asked, not making any attempt to move, instead wrapping his own arms round Ianto and pulling him closer.

"The doorbell will wake us up." Ianto mumbled into Jack's shoulder, already half asleep.

"And you're still coming to ours for dinner?" Ria asked as she sat down at the kitchen table opposite Ianto. Ianto looked up at his sister blearily, suppressing a yawn as his hands pressed round a mug of coffee to warm them.

"Should be, as long as work doesn't get in the way." Ianto replied before lifting the coffee mug, pressing it against his nose trying to warm it.

"Yeah, Torchwood again." Ria grumbled, taking a sip from her own coffee.

"Oh, Ria don't start again. I'm not going to quit. You can't quit Torchwood."

"I'm not starting," Ria admitted a little coolly as Finn came barrelling in through the back door bringing snow with him. He skidded over the kitchen floor towards the fridge, pulling the door open before rummaging in the vegetable drawer. He emerged a moment later, a carrot in hand before he skidded back across the kitchen, slamming the backdoor behind him.

"I just don't understand why you work for an organisation that's almost got you killed more times than I care to remember." Ria continued now her son was out of earshot again. Ianto didn't reply, just got up and crossed to the kitchen window, glancing out into his back garden where Jack was wrapping his scarf round the snowman's neck as Finn stuck a carrot in it's mouth, Rona's small mittened hands packing snow round the snowman's feet. Jack glanced up at the kitchen window, smiling at Ianto warmly before beckoning with his red raw hands. Ianto nodded and smiled in return as he felt Ria at his shoulder.

"Would you stay if Jack wasn't there?" Ria asked as she watched her children gathering snow before stuffing it down the neck of Jack's coat causing him to screech pathetically, his hands failing wildly in an attempt to remove the cold snow from his collar while Rona and Finn squealed and laughed in delight.

"No." Ianto answered truthfully, thinking back to all those years ago when his only reason for joining Torchwood Cardiff had been to save Lisa. He didn't want to think about what would have happened if Jack hadn't been there to pick up the pieces when Lisa had gone. Ianto smiled again as Jack started chasing Finn round the rockery with a handful of snow.

"Do you hold that against me?" Ianto asked, turning to his sister as he put his mug of coffee in the sink.

Ria shook her head once. "No," she replied truthfully. "Jack's been nothing but a good thing for this family, I just sometimes wish he and Torchwood didn't go hand in hand."

Ianto regarded his sister for a long moment, nodding at her before he pressed a kiss to her forehead. He then turned back to the kitchen table, gathering his jacket and gloves before disappearing out the back door into the snow filled garden again. Ria turned to watch out the kitchen window as her little brother tried to sneak up on Jack only to be wrestled into the snow, her youngest child trying to stuff snow down Ianto's jacket.

"I'm going to go to Midnight Mass if you want to come." Ianto tried to say casually as they were loading a sedated Hoix into the back of the SUV on Christmas Eve.

"When?" Jack grunted as he hoisted up his end, trying to wrestle a stray leg into the boot. "Tonight?"

"Yeah, when we were kids Mam always used to take us." Ianto huffed out before he slammed the boot shut, wiping his hands disdainfully down the front of his suit trousers. "It's just hymn singing, lighting of candles and a bit of a nativity."

"Do you not have to be a member of the church to go?" Jack asked dubiously.

"No," Ianto said, almost sensing that Jack was just trying to find ways out of coming. "I don't mind if you don't want to come, I just thought I'd ask."

"No, I'd like to come," Jack said, smiling as he opened the drivers door and climbed in, looking to Ianto as he got into the passengers seat beside him.

"Jack, you don't have to say you want to come just to appease me. I don't mind going on my own. I know you don't believe in it." Ianto said, pulling his seatbelt on as Jack put the keys into the ignition, still watching Ianto.

"No, I don't," Jack said as if he was considering this, "but you do." Jack gave a somewhat hesitant smile before it grew into a cheeky grin. "Plus, I'm always up for trying new things."

Ianto rolled his eyes as Jack started the car to head back to the Hub.

"Jack," Ianto hissed, halfway through the first verse of Silent Night as Jack fished his chirruping phone out of his trouser pocket. The woman on the other side of Ianto was looking at him disapprovingly like it was his fault Jack's phone was going off. Why was it everyone was always blaming him for Jack's behaviour? It wasn't like he was Jack's keeper.

"Sorry," Jack mumbled, apologising to the people on either side of he and Ianto in the church as he flipped his phone open quickly, silencing it. Ianto managed to sing his way through the second verse of Silent Night without any interruptions, but as they reached the third verse he felt Jack leaning in beside him.

"We need to go." Jack whispered in Ianto's ear.

"Why?" Ianto hissed out of the corner of his mouth, still trying to sing along, but he had lost his place on his hymn sheet completely so it was more mumbling than anything. He felt Jack's phone being pressed into the palm of his hand. He glanced down at the screen, pressing the centre button to re-illuminate the screen.

'Worlds ending. Gwen x'

Ianto sighed before handing Jack his phone back and putting his hymn sheet down on the pew.

"She better not be being overdramatic." Ianto hissed back sharply before he was excusing himself to the woman beside him as he tried to squeeze out of the pew, Jack trailing behind, likewise apologising.

"Well we did say to her only call if the world's ending." Jack observed as he made another apologetic face in the direction of Father Bowen.

"Always at bloody Christmas," Ianto grumbled as he pulled on his coat and pushed on the church door out into the cold night air.

"Well there's no Titanic in the sky." Jack observed as he buttoned his coat up, trying to keep up with Ianto who was now striding down the street towards his car.

"Thank God for small mercies." Ianto replied sarcastically.

"Sorry we're late," Ianto apologised as Ria opened the front door to he and Jack.

"Work?" Ria questioned with a raised eyebrow. Ianto gave her an apologetic smile before he was leaning in to kiss her on the cheek in greeting, just as a man Ianto didn't recognise, but presumed to be Ryan, emerged from the living room, Rona in his arms.

"Work on Christmas day? Someone drives you hard." The man commented and Ianto knew what would follow.

"Not just at work." Jack commented, causing Ianto to roll his eyes, Ria to cough awkwardly and Ryan to look confused.

"This is my brother Ianto," Ria said, nervously wiping her hands on the front of her apron, "and his partner Jack. Who is also his boss."

"Well that's new," Jack said, holding his hand out towards Ria's new man, Ryan, to shake, "I've been called a lot of things, but,"

"Enough, Jack!" Ianto interrupted, dunting Jack in the ribs before shaking Ryan's hand as well. "The stocking jokes this morning were bad enough."

"Nice to meet you both." Ryan said through a somewhat pained smile as he put Rona on the floor who was wriggling to get down.

Ianto stepped over the threshold of Ria's flat and immediately swept Rona up into his arms, kissing her.

"Hello mischief," Ianto said by way of greeting. "Was Santa good to you this year?"

Rona nodded enthusiastically, gurgling slightly as she held up the stuffed toy she had in her hand to show him.

"Very nice," Ianto said, taking the stuffed duck that she was pressing into his face from her. "Does he have a name yet?"

Rona shook her head sadly as Ianto sat the stuffed duck back in Rona's arms so it's face was squashed against his chest.

"I'm sure you'll think of one." Ianto encouraged, hoisting his niece higher on his hip as he moved towards the living room. "Do you know I think Santa must have got confused because he left some presents at my house for you as well." Ianto said cheerily as he disappeared into the living room, Rona still in his arms to find Finlay.

Ria watched her brother for a moment, slouched down in an armchair where he'd fallen asleep about ten minutes into the movie. He still had a tumbler of whisky clenched in his hand that Ria was impressed he hadn't dropped. She considered removing it but was worried it would wake him.

Jack stepped in at that moment though, grasping the glass in his hand and sliding it out from between Ianto's now lax fingers. Ianto roused slightly as Jack pulled the tumbler free, but soon belied Ianto waking by pressing a kiss to his temple. Ianto seemed to settle back into his upright sleep, a slight smile on his face now.

"There's a trick to it." Jack whispered conspiratorially in Ria's ear before handing her the glass and retrieving the plates they'd had the Christmas cake on from the coffee table. Ria smiled, letting out a little huff of satisfied laughter before she was moving towards the kitchen.

"You know you two can stay here if you want. The sofa pulls out," Ria said quietly as she deposited the handful of glasses in the sink, Jack doing the same with the stack of plates he had in his arms.

"Thanks for the offer but I think Ianto needs a proper sleep in a decent bed." Jack replied, leaning against the work surface, letting a yawn escape him. They'd been up for over thirty-two hours now and it was starting to take its toll.

"I'll wake him up when the kids are ready for bed so we can say goodnight then I think we'll go." Jack clarified, rubbing at the back of his neck, trying to ease some of the tension. Ria nodded before she opened up the dishwasher so she could stack it.

"Ryan seems like a nice guy," Jack started conversationally.

Ria hummed in agreement as she started to load the dishwasher.

"Is this from today's impression or the background check you and Ianto did on him?" Ria asked, motioning for Jack to pass her the glasses.

"Ianto and I would never do something like that," Jack replied sharply.

"What about Steve?" Ria prompted.

"He was a convicted felon," Jack defended, turning the tap on to run hot water so he could wash the pots.

"Yeah, but you didn't need to scare the crap out of him."

"It was fun though," Jack chuckled.

"You do know you're not my big brother," Ria admonished.

"Yes, but due to an unfortunate affliction of the heart I can't seem to get rid of your brother so I'm afraid you're stuck with me." Jack flashed Ria one of his patent Harkness grins and Ria returned it with a warm smile of her own. She was still smiling long after Jack turned away, to scrub at the pans in the sink.

"I finally remembered who I forgot to buy a present for." Ianto said conversationally as he and Jack were walking back to Ianto's through the streets of Cardiff, slightly merry at half past ten in the evening on Christmas Day.

"Who?" Jack asked as he threaded his arm through the crock of Ianto's before shoving his hand back in his coat pocket.

"Tosh." Ianto said quietly after a moment's hesitation, looking sidelong at Jack as he waited for a reaction.

"I bought her something," Jack said eventually, not looking at Ianto as they walked under the railway bridge.

"I didn't realise I had an extra present until I was wrapping them up the other day." Jack continued, still not looking at Ianto. The silence went on for a long moment as they passed out the other side of the railway bridge, back into the crisp night air.

"I bought Owen a t-shirt that said 'Trust me I'm a Doctor'," Ianto said eventually, his hand moving out of his coat pocket to clasp at Jack's forearm. "I ordered it without thinking."

They walked on in silence, their breath the only thing disturbing the cold night air. It wasn't until they were stood on Ianto's doorstep, Ianto fiddling with the keys that Jack finally spoke.

"I miss them," he said softly as Ianto finally found the door with his keys. Ianto stopped with the keys hanging in the door, turning back to Jack and looking at him.

"Me too," Ianto said sadly, letting out a breath as he moved into Jack's personal space, a hand on his shoulder as he lent in to kiss him tenderly on the lips. His hand trailed down the length of Jack's arm, finding his hand before he was turning back to the door, unlocking it before tugging Jack inside. They removed their coats in the darkness of the hall, before Ianto switched the living room light on.

"Before I forget," Ianto said, pulling Jack into the living room by the hand. Ianto's Christmas tree stood in the window looking rather forlorn, a distinct lack of presents underneath it's plastic limbs, lights unblinking. Ianto pulled a small box from underneath it, wrapped in paper that Ianto had used for the last two Christmases, handing it to Jack, almost hesitantly.

"Merry Christmas, Jack," Ianto said softly.

Jack smiled, shaking the box experimentally and listening as something heavy rattled around inside.

"What is it?" Jack asked, somewhat like a child at Christmas, shaking the box again and causing Ianto to roll his eyes.

"You'll break it if you keep doing that." Ianto chastised, watching almost incredulously as Jack started sniffing it.

"Jack, just open it will you." Ianto said somewhat impatiently. Jack shrugged before he was pulling at the wrapping paper to reveal a small blue box, the name 'Jones & Son' printed on the top in a calligraphy font. Ianto got twitchy as Jack's long fingers grasped the lid and pulled it free from the box.

"I know that you tried to get your old one fixed – again – but I thought it was time you got one that didn't break all the time." Ianto said in a rush of words as Jack looked momentarily stunned at the contents of the box.

He didn't say anything, just pulled the silver pocket watch from it's box, holding it in his palm. The fingers of his left hand glided over the beautifully engraved detail on the front before he pressed the button to release the catch with a pop. Inside was a whir of cogs that proclaimed it to be eleven minutes to eleven on the 25th December. The writing behind the face proclaimed it to be a Jones & Son masterpiece; watch makers of Cardiff. It was then Jack noticed what had been engraved on the inside of the watch that Jack would always remember, years after the watch would stop working.

'For My Captain. My Family. Always.'

Jack could feel tears springing to his eyes unbidden as he read the message again that meant more to him than the words 'I love you' ever would.

"Do you-" Ianto didn't get a chance to finish his sentence before Jack's lips were crashing into his, catching him open mouthed. The kiss intensified as Jack continued to clutch the watch tightly in his right hand, the left one hooked round the back of Ianto's head, clutching at his hair like he never wanted to let go. When they eventually parted for air, Jack's hand slid down so it rested on the small of Ianto's back, his forehead resting against Ianto's own.

"Thank you," Jack whispered, breath hot on Ianto's cheeks, still flushed from the cold outside. Jack could feel hot tears of emotion sliding down his face, soon replaced by a calloused thumb wiping them away.

"Always," Ianto whispered in reply, leaning in to press a gentle kiss to Jack's lips.