Will You Marry Me?

It was an amazingly perfect afternoon in the Welsh countryside. The Rift was behaving quietly for a change; it was being monitored by Tosh, who was busy writing a new translation program, and by Owen, who was busy dissecting the latest alien body to grace his autopsy table. The sun was out, there was a soft breeze rustling through the leaves and branches, and the trees were full of birds singing sweet songs back and forth to one another.

Ianto took a deep breath of fresh country air as he finished packing the remains of their picnic lunch into the basket. Opening the coffee flask, he poured two cups of steaming hot brew and handed one to Jack. Pulling his own under his nose, he replaced the fresh air in his lungs with the heavenly aroma of Colibri Azul, a bean grown in Nicaragua and a special find at the local specialist's shop he often frequented in Cardiff. Few things made him happier than coming across a new bean or an unusual blend to share with the man he loved.

Leaning back against the tree trunk, Ianto motioned to Jack, silently inviting him to relax and rest on his legs. Jack smiled happily, finished his coffee in two big gulps and lay down, letting his lover's lap cradle his head. He turned his face toward Ianto and breathed in that unique scent that was Ianto's alone. It intrigued him as it filled his nostrils and it seduced him as it went straight to his groin.

The two men sat in peaceful silence, enjoying the afternoon, revelling in the opportunity to be alone together with no interruptions from work. Ianto slowly threaded his fingers through the soft, silken strands of Jack's hair while his other hand was clasped in one of Jack's, and so entwined, they rested on Jack's chest.

"Jack?"

"Ianto." Jack's response was a tad muffled, considering his face was partially buried in the fabric of Ianto's crotch.

With an indulgent smile, Ianto put his finger under Jack's chin and turned his head just a little so that he could look into the older man's eyes. "Jack…"

"Didn't we just do this? Yes, I'm Jack, and you're Ianto. It's nice to meet you." Jack grinned mischievously. "Now hug me, kiss me and make me your love slave!"

Ianto rolled his eyes. "Shush! You'll ruin the moment. Now close your eyes again and behave." Ianto softened his words with a kiss to Jack's forehead. Jack did as told, closing his eyes and resting his head on Ianto's legs again.

After a few minutes of peace and quiet, Ianto tried again. "Jack?"

"Yes?"

"Will you marry me?" Ianto had to force himself to speak slowly; his nerves were urging him to blurt the words out quickly.

"Yes."

"You will?" Ianto's voice actually squeaked a little. "Really?"

"Yes." Jack looked up at Ianto and met his eyes dead-on. "If you'll answer me this one question."

Ianto's breath caught in his throat. 'Here it comes,' he thought. 'Here come his lame excuses and his stupid reasons why we shouldn't do this, why we're not a couple,' he sighed and his shoulders slumped in defeat. 'I shouldn't have asked him. I should have kept my big mouth shut. Now I've ruined everything. God, I'm such an idiot! I should have just left things the way they were.' Ianto could only nod in response; he couldn't trust his voice. A heavy feeling settled in his chest and he waited for his dreams to crumble around his feet.

"Will you marry me?"

"Huh?" Ianto blinked, once, twice and his eyes widened. 'Did I hear him right?' he wondered. 'Did Jack just propose to me?' Deciding to take a chance that his hearing was working correctly, Ianto managed to croak out one word.

"Yup."

With a huge grin, Jack reached into his pocket, pulled out a small velvet box covered in in deep red velvet and held it out to Ianto. With a matching grin, Ianto reached over to his jacket and retrieved a velvet box of his own, this one in deep blue. Hands stretched out at the same time, boxes were exchanged at the same moment and then they were opened in unison.

Ianto gazed into his red velvet box at a beautiful ring, a simple platinum band set with an unusually coloured stone. Its centre seemed to glow softly in the dappled sunlight. He'd never seen anything like it before, and he looked at Jack in question.

"It's a very rare Kalanasian memory stone. I found it in a little shop in the village of Kon-Soo-Coot, on Blunsic Prime, in the year 4319. I was there for a few hours of R&R, between assignments for the Time Agency." Jack took the ring from the box and slid it on Ianto's ring finger, sealing its placement with a kiss.

"What does the memory part do?" Ianto held his hand up and peered deeply at his ring.

"When you have a very special memory, one that you want to treasure always, you press the stone against your right temple and picture the event in your mind. The stone copies the memory into its core, preserving it for all time."

Ianto considered the ring on his finger. "Can you watch or relive the memories stored there?"

"Once a memory is in the stone, it's there forever. When you want to see it again, you just press it against your temple again but the left one this time, and these tiny bubbles appear in your mind. They're like miniature snapshots, each one containing an individual memory. When you see one you want to relive, you concentrate on it and the bubble will open up." Jack grinned. "It's like watching a movie inside your head, but it's so real that all of your senses come to life. You can smell things, hear things, feel things. It's exactly as if the moment was happening all over again, for real."

"Jack, that's absolutely amazing!" Ianto exclaimed, his mind already running pell-mell through dozens of memories he wanted to preserve.

"Put the ring to your temple, close your eyes, and just watch. I've already put a memory inside, just for you." Jack's voice was soft, eager and enticing.

Ianto followed Jack's instructions, twisting the ring around on his finger so that the stone was even with his palm, and he placed his hand against the left side of his head. Instantly, a small silver bubble appeared against his eyelids. As he watched, the bubble expanded until it popped gently and Ianto's mind was flooded with images. He watched for a few moments before opening his eyes and looking down at Jack.

"This is the first time we made love, Jack." The tears flooding Ianto's eyes made his voice low and husky.

Jack nodded. "That was the night that I knew that no matter how hard I had tried not to be, I was so deeply in love with you. That was the first time we actually made love, instead of just having sex."

Ianto swallowed several times trying to clear his throat and he blinked his eyes rapidly. Finally he trusted his voice enough to say, "You haven't looked in your box yet."

With fingers that trembled slightly, Jack lifted the lid of his blue box and looked inside. Nestled in a soft bed of crumbled silk lay a simple band of platinum, set with a stunningly fiery stone. He looked at Ianto with silent questions in his eyes.

"It's a Royal Asscher Cut diamond. There's only one diamond house in the world who makes this proprietary cut – the Royal Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam. Their royal warrant is from Queen Juliana of Holland." Ianto explained. "I did some research on them; it's quite an inspiring story."

Intrigued, Jack listened attentively; not only was he interested in the story, but the opportunity to hear Ianto speak was not to be missed – those lovely Welsh vowels rolled off his tongue and went straight into Jack's heart every time he heard them.

"In 1854 Joseph Isaac Asscher founded the diamond house, and his grandsons, Joseph and Abraham, were responsible for cutting two of the largest diamonds ever found, the Excelsior in 1903, and the Cullinan in 1907. As you know, the Cullinan diamonds are the pride of Queen Elizabeth's Royal Crown Jewels collection still today." Ianto looked down at Jack and a tender smile played at his lips. "Are you awake?" he asked softly.

Jack's eyes flew open. "Yup. I'm just listening to you and enjoying the story."

"Do you want to hear more?" Ianto stroked the side of Jack's face gently and Jack leaned into his touch, a happy purr sounding in his throat.

"Yup." Jack closed his eyes again and settled his head comfortably. "Okay, I'm ready. Tell me more story."

Rolling his eyes affectionately, Ianto continued with his tale. "During World War II, the Nazis took over the diamond house and interned the Asscher family and all their employees. By the time the war was over and the Allies had liberated the concentration camps, there were only ten family members left."

Jack gave an involuntary shudder of horror, remembering the pictures he'd seen of camp survivors; they reminded him of living skeletons covered with skin. Ianto calmed his lover with a gentle "shhhh" and a soft brush of his hand through his hair.

"Out of the five hundred diamond polishers and workers taken prisoner, only fifteen had survived. The family was able to rebuild their company and today it's run by their fifth and sixth generations. The particular cut of the diamond in your ring is based on the original Asscher cut designed over one hundred years ago."

"That's an incredible story." Jack looked at his ring with wonder and respect in his eyes.

"I chose that diamond house and this specific cut because the story of the Asscher family reminds me of you, Cariad. You both epitomise the will to survive, the ability to overcome obstacles, and the drive to move forward with life."

Ianto took the ring from the box and slipped it onto Jack's finger, pressing his lips against the ring and the finger, bonding them together with a kiss.

"Thank you, Ianto. Thank you for having such faith in me, and thank you for loving me enough to ask me to be your husband." Jack's voice broke and he squeezed his eyes shut to prevent his tears from escaping as Ianto continued to rain kisses down upon his face.

"Thank you, Jack." Ianto leaned down and kissed Jack deeply. "Thank you for trusting me enough to say yes. More than anything, that alone means the world to me."

Ianto entwined their fingers so that their rings were side-by-side. He brought their hands up to his lips and kissed both rings together.

"Thank you for such an amazing, special ring, Cariad." His lips met Jack's in another searing kiss, not stopping until they were desperate for breath. Ianto pulled away only far enough and long enough to say,

"Most of all, Jack, thank you for loving me."

**Information on the Royal Asscher Diamond Company came from Wikipedia: wiki/Royal_Asscher_Diamond_Company and from

Asscher's own website: .