Author's note: A birthday present for Lucy :D Happy birthday pet!
Ianto reached out to turn off the alarm and rolled over to face the other side of the bed, only to find it empty. He raised his head and sighed in disappointment when he saw that Jack's clothes were gone from the chair by the door. "Happy birthday to me," he muttered at the ceiling, rubbing his hand across his face and grimacing at the scratch of stubble against his palm. Sluggishly, he clambered from the bed and changed the sheets, dumping them in the laundry basket and pondering the best way to get them cleaned without going moldy – he had half an hour before he needed to leave, and Jack would understand if he was late... No, Jack wouldn't understand, Jack would worry, and then Ianto would think about reminding him that it was his, Ianto's, birthday but decide against it in the end and just tell him that he'd needed to clean the sheets after last night. Chocolate needed to be got out as soon as possible, after all. He smiled as he shoved the sheets into the washing machine and decided to focus on the fact that Jack had totally blown his mind the night before, rather than the fact that he hadn't bothered to hang around to be there when Ianto woke up on his birthday because he'd forgotten... and breathe.
With the washing machine on a fast wash, he stumbled back to the bathroom for a shower and a shave, then stared into the mirror blearily. Twenty five. "Christ," he muttered. "Never thought I'd live to see the day."
No, he never had, not since Daleks and Cybermen ripped Torchwood apart and spat him out.
Feeling more human now, he went back to his bedroom and flopped onto the bare mattress, burying his face in the piled-up duvet at the head of the bed. He grunted into it at the sound of his phone vibrating across his bedside table and grabbed it, staring at the screen in surprise. Seven texts since it had turned on with the alarm. Rhiannon, Daff, Kel, Gwen, Tosh, Rhys and Sammi, all wishing him a happy birthday. Wait, Rhys? "Oh great," he muttered, slinging his phone into the duvet and standing up. "So Gwen's boyfriend can remember my birthday, but mine can't? Although God forbid that anyone contemplate that I'm anything more to him than a friend he likes to shag. I must be really, really good in bed to make it worth it."
"Oh yay, I'm talking to myself. Shame, if someone else were here, I wouldn't have to," he pulled the wardrobe door open and grabbed a suit, then put it back as soon as he realised that it was Jack's favourite. He went for the dark grey one instead, one that he liked but Jack didn't – Jack thought that the jacket was too long, and Ianto liked the fabric. His birthday, his choice of suit. Myabe if Jack had been here...
The sounds of the washing machine stopped and Ianto part-dressed fast, then went back to the kitchen in bare feet, trousers and open shirt to get the washing and hang it over the airer in the corner. That done, he went back to his bedroom, fastening and tucking his shirt in on the way, put on a plain blue tie and pulled on the jacket. He caught sight of himself in the mirror and tried to smirk, trying to convince himself that Jack would have to make it up to him, but finding it much easier to believe that Jack wouldn't bother. No one was that good in bed.
His mood persisted all the way to the Hub, despite the stunningly beautiful weather he walked through. Once inside, he tried to cheer up a bit for the girls, who had remembered his birthday, and checked his phone again to find another three texts, which nearly did the trick. Gwen hugged him as soon as he got through the door and pressed a wrapped gift into his hands. "Happy birthday pet," she pulled back and he saw the look in her eyes. "Jack said he had to meet someone. I told him..."
"It's okay, Gwen," he assured her.
"What did he get you?" Owen asked, tapping his pen on Millies Cookies box on Ianto's desk and walking away.
Ianto hesitated and Gwen frowned. "He did... Ianto?"
"Shagged me senseless last night," he managed a grin that wasn't entirely forced. "We're not big on physical gifts. Well, not this sort of physical," he held up Gwen's gift and smiled. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, pet," she smiled, clearly not quite reassured. "Oh, Tosh is down in the server room."
"Thanks," he sat down at his desk and opened the box of cookies to get a double chocolate one, then offered the box to Gwen. "Cookie?"
"They're for your birthday," she protested, but took one anyway. "Going to open it, then?"
"Yep," he stuck the cookie in his mouth and opened Gwen's gift carefully, doing it as slowly as possible to make her twitch. Removing the brightly coloured paper revealed the compiled Sherlock Holmes stories in one volume. "Oh... wow, thank you," he reached out and pulled her towards him, and his shoulder bumped against her waist. "How did you know?"
"Tosh," she admitted. "I had no idea what to get for you, so I went to her for advice. She said you were a fan."
"Oh I am, massively so," he admitted, running his fingers down the spine. "I've been wanting to reread them for a while."
"Good," she bent down and kissed his cheek, then wandered off to her own desk. "Don't forget Tosh," she told him.
"I haven't," he promised as he put the book in the top drawer of his desk. "I'm going down to her now, can you cope without coffee until I get back up?"
"Yeah, we'll be fine, thanks Ianto," she smiled over at him. "I met Owen coming in and he got us hot chocolate."
"Okay then," he stood up and picked the box up. "Cookie Owen?"
"No thanks, mate. Too sweet on this headache."
He laughed and turned away. "I'll keep my comm. on..."
"I'll call you if he gets back," Gwen told him. "I think Tosh has a surprise for you..."
"Already going," he laughed and jogged down to the server room in the archives. "Tosh, you in here?"
The lights flicked on and Ianto stared at the open book shaped cake on the table. Tosh stood by the light switch, smiling at him. "I couldn't think of a present to get you, but I thought that none of the others can bake, and I wanted to try my hand at doing some icing after that could I went on," she bobbed her head. "Do you..."
"It's beautiful, Tosh," he told her, stepping forwards to look down at it. "That's incredible."
She tucked herself into his side and stole a cookie from the box. "I know Jack's out, but we can save it until he gets back, if you like."
Ianto contemplated this and finally nodded. "Sounds like a good idea."
By three in the afternoon, Jack had called Gwen three times to tell her that he was still chasing leads and to set them new tasks, ringing off before she could respond. She'd taken to muttering darkly, and even Tosh had commented that he should have at least tried to spend some time with Ianto. He'd just smiled and said that they should enjoy the peace and quiet whilst they could, as whatever Jack was chasing would probably blow up in their faces before long. Owen had grunted his agreement and buried his head in the reports Jack had asked him to read, whilst Ianto slipped away to the archives to search for the latest lot of files that Jack had asked him to dig out for UNIT. Correction, the files that Jack had told Gwen that UNIT needed, and that Ianto should find for them. He was allowed to be upset by this point, wasn't he?
At five, Tosh called him to say that Jack had sent them all home saying that they needed a good night's sleep, and asked if he'd like to try his cake now, take it home with him or save it for tomorrow. He smiled, for the first time in three hours, and said that he'd be up there to cut it momentarily. With his hands full of almost the last of the files, he made his way back to the Hub and dumped them in a glorious heap on Jack's desk, then came back to his own desk where the cake was waiting for him. He took the knife from Gwen and pointed it at the cake. "You all promise not to sing, right?" he asked with mock fear.
Owen punched his arm and Tosh nodded solemnly. "We promise, now will you cut the damned cake?"
He tipped his head on one side and cut a slice an inch from the edge of the left hand page, then cut it into four pieces. "Thank you, Tosh," he smiled at her.
"You're welcome," she picked up a piece and balanced it on her palm, breaking small pieces off with the other hand. "It's a shame..."
"It's a shame Jack decided to wander off, today of all days," Owen finished when she trailed off. "He'd better make it up to you, mate."
"I doubt it," he muttered.
Gwen sighed and poked him in the side. "He forgot, didn't he?" she asked and he nodded without looking up from his cake. "Why didn't you say anything?"
He shrugged. "Wouldn't make a difference, apart from maybe making him feel guilty. He'd still have to go and do his thing."
She shook her head. "Why do you put up with it?"
"The sex is good," he told her honestly. "I don't need anything more... It'd be nice, yes. But I don't need it."
Owen pointed at him. "You mean you put up with it because you're a man."
"Right," he turned to the girls. "Don't worry, you wouldn't understand." With that, he brushed his hands off and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Right, I've done what he asked for, I'm going home. No, better yet, pub! Birthday drinks, Ianto?"
"Not tonight, sorry, Owen," he sighed and broke off another lump of cake. "I've not finished finding all the files UNIT want."
"Fair enough," he shrugged and reached for his jacket. "I'll see you tomorrow, then. We'll have belated birthday drinks at some point."
"Okay," he leaned back on the desk. "Sounds good to me."
"Either of you wants to celebrate without birthday boy?" Owen asked the girls. "I'll get the first round."
Tosh hesitated, but nodded as soon as Gwen shook her head. "Sounds good to me, sorry Ianto."
"Don't worry about it," he reassured her. "I won't be here long anyway, I hope."
They headed off and Gwen sat on the edge of the desk next to him. "It does bother you, doesn't it?"
"Gwen, can I ask you something?"
"Of course you can, pet," she covered his hand on the desk.
"Did Rhys remember, or was he reminded?"
She frowned. "I told him this morning, before I went to work. Why?"
"Oh..." she studied her nails. "Him I had to remind."
"Good," he tips his head back and smiles. "It bothers me less in that case."
"He's a man," Ianto pointed out, pushing away from the desk and putting the cake back in its box. "We don't do remembering birthdays."
Gwen went home not long after and left Ianto alone in the Hub. He'd actually got all the files sorted, but he was making excuses to hang around and wait for Jack. Eventually he gave up and powered down the Hub, walking home in silence, consoled only by the fact that having a birthday in the middle of August meant that his chances of not seeing sunshine on his birthday were greatly reduced. It was seven by the time he got through his front door and sagged against it, head thunking back against the wood.
"I was starting to get worried," Jack told him softly from where he was leaning on the back of the sofa. "Thought I'd have to go and drag you out of the Hub, or..."
He blinked tiredly and smiled, happy that at least Jack had come here instead of the Hub at the end of the day. "Hey, good day?"
Jack's smile scared him slightly, it was amused and confused and worried and sly as he advanced on Ianto until his hands rested on Ianto's hips. He brushed their lips together and Ianto leaned forwards into it. "Could have been better," Jack admitted. "I missed you."
Ianto brushed his nose against Jack's and met his eyes. "I missed you too."
"You thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?"
Ianto stared for a moment, then dropped his head forwards slightly to catch Jack's lips again. "Yeah, I did," he agreed. "Sorry."
"Don't be sorry," Jack told him, wrapping his arms around Ianto's waist and nuzzling at his cheek. "Clearly I haven't tried hard enough to make you believe in me."
"Jack, you're a man," Ianto slid his hands up and gripped Jack's shoulders. "You're supposed to forget my birthday."
"You wouldn't forget mine."
"If I knew it," he sighed and sagged against Jack slightly. "I want a day when I can be an awesome boyfriend."
He realised what he'd said before it came out of his mind and his grip on Jack's shoulders tightened reflexively. Jack, however, just sighed and rested his chin on Ianto's shoulder. "You always are, but if you really want a date, you should pick one. I honestly don't know."
Ianto slid one arm down and wrapped it around Jack's waist, whilst the other went up so that his fingers could tangle in Jack's hair. "Different dating system?"
"Very," Jack kissed the side of his neck. "Now... Have you got time for raclette, trifle and a bottle of wine in front of a Sherlock Holmes DVD, or should I take you to bed and ravish you straight away?"
"Dinner sounds lovely," Ianto pulled back and pressed his hand to Jack's cheek to hold him in place for a kiss. "Thank you."
Jack smiled at him and leaned in for another kiss. "Merry Christmas, Ianto."
Ianto frowned. "Wrong..."
He frowned slightly, then laughed and shrugged. "Okay, the other one then. Forgive my ancient, addled mind."
"Oh, alright then," he let Jack lead him through to the kitchen and push him into a seat. "You're lucky I'm so magnanimous."
"I'm lucky full stop," Jack told him gently.