Jack pulled into the empty farmyard and smiled at Ianto. "Now, remember. You don't know there's a surprise planned."
"I remember," Ianto rolled his eyes and leaned over to kiss him. "I'm not a complete spoil-sport."
"That's okay, then." He parked against the barn wall and got out, deciding to leave the roof down for now, despite the risk that this would make it rain. "Coffee?"
"Hopeless," Ianto chided. They headed for the door, but were intercepted by scampering feet on gravel hurtling around the corner of the barn. "Hello Monster!" he bent down and held out his arms, and Mirabelle crashed into them, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck and planting a wet kiss on his cheek. "Did you miss me?"
"Happy birthday Taddy!" She hugged him slightly too tightly, and he made choking faces at Jack. "We got you a surprise."
"Did you really?" he pried her off a bit and shifted her more comfortably on his hip. "You're getting too big, Princess."
"I'm a big girl," she agreed, releasing one hand to clamp her hand onto her head. "I fell in the Nant 'terday."
"Did you get wet?" Jack asked, poking her tummy. "Hello darling."
"I did get wet," she agreed. "It was good."
"Can I have a cuddle?" Jack asked her, but she hugged Ianto again and shook her head. "Oh... okay."
More footsteps approached around the barn, and David poked his head around to look at them. "Belle, you're supposed to let them come to us," he chided, then added as an afterthought, "Also, you're not supposed to run off. We're having a picnic in the meadow, if you'd like to join us, though."
"Ooo picnic," Ianto smiled and hitched Mirabelle higher so that he could free one of his hands and hold it out to Jack. "Coming?"
"Coming," Jack agreed, taking his hand. "We need to get some fresh suntan lotion on you, though."
They followed David around the corner of the barn and stopped to stare at the big meadow. The marquee had been set up at one end of it, with balloons and streamers tied onto every exposed pole and rope loop, and the walls were open to reveal several long tables surrounded by chairs, and a buffet table at the far end. The barn doors were wide open, as was the hayloft door above them, and two big speakers had been set up in the hayloft. The grass was covered with picnic blankets and chairs, and all of them were recently abandoned by friends and family, who had stood up to cheer 'surprise' at their arrival.
Ianto was either a very good actor, or they'd managed to keep their plans as secret as he'd made out. "Wow..." he swallowed and released Jack's hand so that he could wrap his arm around his waist instead and hold him closer. "This is..."
"Happy birthday, Ianto," Ruth approached them with two champagne flutes and a bottle. "You might have to put the pair of them down for this."
He nodded and released Jack, handing Mirabelle over to him, and tugged his mam in for a hug. "Never trust a Jones," he muttered. "Thank you."
"My little boy, you're not allowed to be thirty," she insisted, wiping at her eyes awkwardly with the hand full of glasses. "Now pop the cork, then we can get on with drinking."
"Hang on!" Mica yelled, and Ianto spotted her sitting behind the speakers with a laptop on the floor between them. "You have to pop it on the final note."
Ianto looked at Jack desperately, but Jack just shrugged. Andrew had joined them and burrowed under Jack's free arm, and Ianto would have given his kingdom for a camera. Considering how many there were around, he'd probably be able to get a photo of it off someone else. "Get on with it then!" he yelled back.
"I'm getting on with it. Nearly... hah!"
The opening chords of Happy Birthday To You floated across the field, and the gathered crowd joined in with a lot of gusto and not so much skill. Ianto blinked back tears and concentrated on unwrapping the foil in time to fire the cork. It sailed up into the sky and Ianto saw someone lift Steven to catch it. "Thank you," he blushed fiercely, and Ruth rescued him with the champagne flutes. "How do you want to do this?"
"I'll hold, you pour. Then I want a photo of you, Jack and the children," she instructed, holding the flutes out. "Mica Morwen Davies, shut that racket off."
"That racket is my favourite band," Ianto protested vaguely, even as Mica switched the track to something much cheesier and more suitable. "The girl has excellent taste."
"That racket has far too much swearing in it for my Auntie Evelyn," Ruth said severely.
"What, she's here?" Ianto blinked and scanned the crowd. "Does she know I'm married?"
"I don't know, depends on whether she's read the Christmas letters for the last three years. Snog Jack and we'll find out..." she passed him a glass and took the bottle back. "Not that you need telling to do that."
He smiled and accepted the other glass from her. "Where do you want us?"
"Oh, in the barn, dear. We've got a photo studio set up, so we can get all the family photos done whilst we're here," she ushered him towards Jack and the children, then all of them in a group into the barn. "We'll get this one done now, then get you drunk and do the rest later."
Ianto reached out to ruffle Andrew's hair and pulled a face at Jack, which Ruth diplomatically ignored. They really had got a professional photo studio set up, with the lights and screens and everything – and a box of props. Ianto's second cousin, Moira, was waiting with a camera. "Happy Birthday, Ianto," she kissed his cheek and gestured to the booth. "Let's get this done, then we can all eat. Now... Ianto and Jack in the middle, with Mirabelle and Andrew on either side."
They arranged themselves as instructed, with Mirabelle on Jack's hip and Andrew hugged in to Ianto's, and their free arms around each other. Moira took a few photos, including a few more relaxed ones, until she was satisfied, then steered them out of the dark barn into the sunshine with a grin. "You'll be back for more later, I'm sure."
"We probably will," Ianto agreed.
Mica glomped him from behind and grinned out from around his side. "Are you surprised, Uncle Ianto?"
"I am. Did you organise all of this?" he asked seriously.
"No," she giggled. "Mum and Nan helped."
"I'm sure they did," he ran his fingers through her hair and tapped her nose. "Now, did someone mention dinner?"
A couple of hours later, Ianto had got separated from Jack, who was being accosted by every female member of Ianto's family over the age of fifteen, but had found Alice and John. "Alice, thanks for coming."
"I wouldn't have missed it for the world," she assured him, kissing his cheek. "Happy birthday."
"Thank you. How was your trip?" Alice and the boys had gone out to Italy to see Steven's dad and his new wife (his second wife since Alice), and were joining him and Jack at the house for the remainder of the summer holidays.
"Oh, it had its moments," she sighed, "most of them bad. It was lovely once we got rid of them, though."
"Did Venice live up to expectations?"
"Venice always lives up to expectations," she laughed. "Have you been?"
"Yes, once. Work, though," he added, and she smiled sympathetically. "Which reminds me, did I see the Doctor earlier?"
Alice pointed over her shoulder. "See the crowd of children?"
He looked past her and laughed. "Oh, yes. Mica will keep him in order."
"Do you think she's going to travel with him one day?" Alice asked thoughtfully.
"Probably," he smiled and watched the Doctor playing with the gaggle of Jones and Torchwood children. "Maybe she already has for him."
"You lot worry me," she muttered. "I think he scared John a bit," she ruffled the little boy's dark hair and he looked up at her with wide eyes and his thumb in his mouth. "He's been very quiet since we bumped into him."
"He has that effect," Ianto laughed. "Oh..." large hands had settled on his waist, and then the strong arms wrapped around his waist and tugged him back against a solid chest. "Hello Jack," he smiled, relaxing back and resting his arms on top of Jack's.
"Three of my favourite people," Jack grinned and kissed the side of his neck. "How are you both? Enjoying yourselves?"
"Definitely," Alice looked between them. "Should I give you some privacy?"
"We're in the middle of a field, Alice," Ianto pointed out. "I don't think he's going to be that inappropriate..." she was giving him a doubtful look, so he shrugged the shoulder that Jack's chin wasn't resting on. "Inappropriate, yes. But not public nudity inappropriate."
"You never know," Jack warned him. "Mirabelle has been suggesting a naked run to the Nant."
"I think that's probably aimed at people under the age of ten, Jack," Ianto chided. "Not just a mental age of ten."
"You wound me," Jack pouted audibly and tightened his arms around Ianto's waist. "Happy Birthday sweetheart."
Ianto turned his head and met Jack's lips. "Thank you." He relaxed back again and nuzzled his cheek against Jack's. "This is definitely the best birthday I've ever had."
Alice smiled and excused herself and John, and left Jack swaying with Ianto in his arms, back to chest. Jack's lips drifted against his ear. "Vow with me?"
"Vow with you?" Ianto turned and looped his arms around Jack's neck. "Is that English?" He leaned in to silence Jack's protests with a kiss. "I'd love to... vow with you. Did you have a vow in mind?"
"Nope," Jack smiled at him and his hands slid innocently to Ianto's arse and rested there not-so-innocently. "I was going to make something up."
"How very... creative," Ianto kissed him again and pushed him away. "You go and be creative, I'm going to mingle for a bit before Moira drags us all for photos. Oh, and tell Mam that you want to vow."
"She knows," Jack grinned at him and stuck his tongue out when Ianto rolled his eyes. "Love you."
Ianto blew him a kiss and drifted off through the crowd, enjoying the chance to catch up with people he hadn't seen in too long. Everyone seemed to have crawled out of the woodwork, some out of curiosity but most out of community. Gwen was swapping stories with Martha, UNIT personnel he'd worked with over the years rubbed shoulders with politicians he'd reassured, police officers he'd relieved of crimes gossiped with neighbours and suppliers he'd formed friendships with watched a large portion of the sprawling Jones family tree somewhat warily. It was lovely to see so many people, despite his occasional moments of 'there's someone missing' when he remembered the people he'd lost over his short life. His dad, Lisa, Tosh and Owen dominated his thoughts in those moments, but there were too many others.
Jennifer reeled him in and hugged him. "Hello Ianto, darling. Where's Jack?"
"Writing vows, I think," he hugged her back and kissed her cheek. "And where..."
"At the bar."
"Ah, of course," they settled down on folding chairs and Ianto leaned back, closing his eyes and turning his face into the sun. "I could get used to this."
"You've landed on your feet," she commented. "Oh, hello."
Mirabelle scrambled into Ianto's lap and snuggled against his chest. "I'm hiding."
"Okay," he stroked the top of her head and rolled his eyes. "I don't think I landed on my feet so much as someone caught me."
"Well, that always helps," Jennifer smiled over at him. "I remember when you were Mirabelle's age. You were such a sweet little boy. And now you're married and a tad. All grown up."
"It happens if you feed us," he hugged Mirabelle tighter. "Although you're not allowed to grow up, Miss Harkness-Jones."
"Why?" she pouted up at him.
"I like you little," he explained. "You're cuddle-able."
"I like cuddles," she hugged him tight. "Taddy, can I have cake?"
He laughed and picked her up, wobbling with the centre of balance that he'd mastered until she put on a growth spurt. "Cake for you, little sausages for me. Coming, Jennifer?"
"I'm already full, several times over," she waved him off. "Your mother organised the catering and I don't know where she got her appetite from, because I certainly didn't inherit it."
"I'm glad I did," Ianto hitched Mirabelle higher again and tickled her. "We'll be around. If you see Jack, will you tell him that I'm looking for him?"
"I will do, sweetheart. Enjoy your sausages."
Ianto and Mirabelle gave her a wave, then Ianto set off, winding his way through the crowd. The weather was warm, the company was excellent, the food was plentiful even for someone used to Jack's catering (they'd be eating leftovers for days, Jack would be dreadfully disappointed), and he'd reached an age he'd once thought he had no chance of seeing, with every expectation that he'd be able to live out the rest of his natural life in similar contentment. "We need to start ganging up on your dad, Princess. I think he's coming up to 2150 soon."
He was glad he'd got the chance to get used to this.