Ianto Jones didn't believe in romance. Well, not any longer, anyhow. He used to. Back when it was he and Lisa against the world. Back when things held a small bit of normalcy, including his job.
These days normal was laughable, and romance was non-existent. Yes, he made coffee, organized artifacts and paperwork, handed out pamphlets to tourist traps, but all that was before lunch. After lunch it was chasing Weevils, Retconning the massive population of south Wales, fending off snark from the medical bay, and shagging his boss. Sure, that last part of his job might include a quick snuggle or sweet kiss once in a while, but real romance? No, that had died for Ianto when Torchwood One fell to the Cybermen.
As he filled in the spreadsheet on his clipboard with shelf locations and brief descriptions, he sighed heavily. He missed it. He really did. The times he would pick up a small box of chocolates and a card that simply said, "I love you," just because he thought of Lisa as he passed the corner florist on his walk home. Her eyes would light up and a smile would spread from ear to ear, her arms wrapping around his neck as she pressed a kiss to his lips.
"You're such a romantic, Ianto Jones," she'd told him once, when he'd set up a picnic in the park. He'd stretched a blanket between two shade trees on a rare sunny day in London, and packed a lunch in a traditional wicker basket. Sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, even sliced melon. He'd blindfolded Lisa, not letting her see any of it until it was complete.
Yes, romance was once something Ianto prided himself on. When the day had been tough for her he'd cook dinner, open a bottle of wine, and often watch a movie with her while he rubbed her sore feet. He loved making her happy, and she him. They were good together. They had a real relationship.
Setting his clipboard on his desk Ianto headed upstairs. He picked up a poorly discarded candy wrapper that had missed the rubbish bin, collected a stray mug, stained from the morning's coffee, and made his way to the small alcove they called a kitchen. Dumping the Snickers wrapper in the bin and rinsing out the mug, Ianto smiled. His life wasn't so bad, now. At least, it could be far worse.
He started another pot of coffee and then headed up to the Captain's office. The man in question was sitting behind his desk, frown creasing his brow as he studied the forms in front of him. Ianto knocked softly on the doorframe, Jack's head snapping up immediately.
"Ianto," Jack said, managing to stretch the name out until it seemed more than two syllables. "What a welcome distraction."
"I'm making more coffee," he told him, smiling. "I figured I'd take your lunch order while it's brewing."
"Ah, that time already?" asked Jack, checking his watch. He snickered. "Wow. Okay. Waddya say we order a pizza or two? We haven't done that in a while."
"Actually, sir, we had pizza three days ago."
"Exactly, Ianto. It's been a while." Jack grinned.
"Everything on it, sir?"
A smirk crossed the Captain's face. "Oh yeah. A little of everything, Ianto. I'm an equal opportunity eater."
Ianto rolled his eyes at the innuendo. "You are that, sir."
He turned from the office, heading down to the cog door and out. When the sun hit him as he exited the Tourist Office he smiled, taking it all in. It was a lovely day in Cardiff. Shame to be trapped underground when the city was bright and bustling.
He walked along the storefronts, telling himself that maybe he'd pick something up for the girls one of these days. Just a trinket, really. It'd been a long time since Tosh had dated anyone, and Gwen spent far too little time with Rhys. A nice gesture might spread the good cheer.
He waited patiently while the young girl behind the counter rang up their order. He could smell the pepperoni cooking and his mouth watered. Being in a pizza parlor always made him remember his childhood. It was the one takeaway his family could afford, though not very often, and every time he set foot inside to place the team's order, he was taken back to those days.
Those were happy times. Back before his mam had passed away, and before his sister had needed to get a job to support them. After all, a drunk father who rarely left the house save for a trip to the pub to drink away the day did not an income make. Ianto longed for the way it had once been, even after he'd left home. He still longed for that even now.
Returning to the Hub Ianto set the food on the conference room table. He headed back down to the kitchen to pour the mugs of coffee even as the rest of the team followed their noses to the pizza. Placing coffee in front of his teammates Ianto accepted their whispered thank you's and nods of appreciation.
They ate quickly, as was the usual case, since Tosh was working on a project and Owen needed to get back down to the waiting alien corpse he'd been dissecting. Gwen tried to make idle conversation but Ianto and Jack were the only ones participating.
"Gotta get back," explained Toshiko, grabbing one more slice of pizza as she slipped out of the room.
"Yep," agreed Owen, taking one more sip of coffee before hopping up and hurrying down to the medical bay.
"Well, okay then," Gwen said, eyes wide and lips pursing.
"Ah, Gwen," Jack replied around a mouthful of pizza. "Don't take it personally."
Ianto frowned, noting the obscene amount of food in the Captain's mouth and shaking his head. He moved around the table, collecting the plates his teammates had so kindly left for him and dusting crumbs into his hand before they hit the floor.
"Always too busy to smell the roses, they are," complained Gwen, lifting her mug to the tray Ianto held out.
"Ianto smells the roses, don't you, Ianto?" Jack smiled, winking at him.
Ianto sighed, suddenly wishing he'd never told Jack that story. He'd been six or seven, and Rhiannon had taken him to a rose garden. He'd been so excited by all the colors and fragrances he'd pulled away from his sister, quickly getting lost amongst the rows of beautiful flowers. When he realized he could no longer see her he sat crying for what seemed like forever. She finally found him, scolding him about running off. Leave it to Jack to remind him.
"Actually, sir," Ianto stated, holding the tray aloft. "I prefer carnations."
He spun on his heel, taking the tray of plates, mugs and serviettes down to be sorted. As he cleaned he thought back to his first date with Lisa. He'd shuddered at the thought of buying her roses, but their friends and coworkers had all insisted she loved flowers. He'd stopped by the local florist and been helped by a sweet girl who said she knew just the thing. She'd pulled out eighteen pink carnations, surrounded by cellophane, and told him it would make his girlfriend's heart melt. It had.
Yes, back then Ianto's life had been full of romance. Every now and then, when he was feeling a bit sorry for himself, he missed it. A lot.
Several nights later he had moved past his melancholy state and was lying on his couch, watching a Bond marathon. One of the few Saturdays he'd actually managed to get out of the Hub early enough to do something with his night. Not that Bond was really doing something with his night, but he figured it was better than nothing.
A knock at his door made his eyes widen. He never had company. Well, apart from the occasional visit from a well-meaning neighbor. He shuffled his bare feet toward the door, opening it slowly.
"Hey there, Ianto," Jack said cheerfully, beaming at him and rocking on his heels. He'd just left the man a few hours ago. Surely he'd have called if there were a Rift emergency?
"Sir?" Jack's hand thrust out and Ianto looked down, taking in the plastic takeaway container that sported two large pieces of chocolate cake. Chocolate cherry cake, actually. Ianto's favorite. "You really didn't have to…"
"Happy anniversary, Ianto."
"It's our one year anniversary," Jack said, smile faltering. "You know, of the first time we kissed. Well, really kissed, not that time with the water tower and the breathing and…all that."
Ianto blinked, mouth opening and closing a few times. He wasn't sure if he was trying to think of something to say or simply replenishing the oxygen supply to his brain. Jack walked past him and Ianto closed the door.
"Here," Jack said softly, turning from where he'd placed the cake on the table. He pulled his other hand from under his great coat, producing a dozen red carnations. "You said you liked them, and red is your color, after all. But if it's too much…"
Ianto's mouth slammed down on Jack's before he could get the rest of his sentence out. He knew he was crushing the flowers between them but at that moment he couldn't have cared less. The gesture itself was worth so much more than the flowers themselves.
Jack moaned against his lips when Ianto's tongue worked its way into his mouth. Ianto pulled the flowers from Jack's hand and dropped them to the table, cupping Jack's neck with both hands and kissing him for all he was worth.
Jack broke the kiss a few moments later, apparently needing more air than Ianto, and grinned at him. "So, I take it you like them?"
Ianto breathed heavily, clutching at Jack's coat. "I love them, Jack," he managed, tugging Jack closer again. "I can't believe you remembered."
"Well, you did just mention them the other day," Jack shrugged, still smiling.
"I meant the time we first kissed," Ianto explained.
"Ah!" said Jack in understanding, moving a hand to brush against Ianto's cheek. "It's not the kind of thing I'd forget, Ianto."
"Really?" he asked, eyebrow arching. "I mean, in all the years you've been alive, sir, and with all the memories you must have, a kiss stood out?"
"It wasn't just any kiss, Ianto," Jack said softly. "It was with you."
Ianto felt the color rise in his face, so he laid his cheek on Jack's shoulder. Jack's arms wrapped around him, holding him tight. It felt right, standing there with Jack. As if suddenly Ianto had everything he needed. Who knew Jack could be so romantic?
"We should probably eat that cake before it gets too warm," Jack murmured into his hair, rubbing at his back through his t-shirt.
"Warm cake is delicious, Jack," Ianto argued, pulling back and pressing a quick kiss to the man's lips before moving toward the table. "Or hot, right out of the oven. With a glass of ice cold milk."
"That's the kid inside talking, Ianto," Jack chuckled. "Tell you what," he said, heading toward the kitchen. "You get the plates, I'll grab the milk."
Ianto uncovered the slices of cake and smiled, dipping his finger into the chocolate frosting and then bringing his finger to his mouth before he hurried after Jack. The man clucked his tongue and swatted his arse as punishment, but Ianto just grinned, pushing him back against the counter and kissing him again. Chocolate and Jack Harkness was a heady mixture.
As they sat close together on the couch, Ianto felt truly peaceful. He turned his head, pressing a soft kiss to Jack's neck. He breathed in the pheromones that consistently made him weak in the knees before turning back to watch the movie and taking another bite of cake.
Romance was alive and well in his life, he realized. Now, if he could just make it through his delicious dessert before he showed Jack exactly how much he appreciated the reminder.