Title: Red, Pink, White
Pairing: Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones
Disclaimer: Property of the BBC.
Warning: Mild spoilers for Cyberwoman and Exit Wounds.
Word Count: 1380
Summary: Three years of Valentine’s Day.
Notes: Thank you to for beta. Pure unmitigated fluff.
day 13: Arts and Education
The date didn’t even register with Ianto until he and Jack were already in bed, though it explained the decorations at the fish and chips shop where he’d got lunch. The owner had made an effort: there had been a string of red paper hearts along the counter and two more, decorated with doilies, stuck to the cash register.
Of course. It was Valentine’s Day. It seemed it had just been Christmas, and he’d spent New Year’s Eve with Lisa (her fingers had flinched in his hand at the sound of fireworks), and now it was Valentine’s Day.
He’d get Lisa roses, he thought drowsily. She liked roses. Red, of course. Red for love.
Jack was stroking Ianto’s hair at his temple, oddly reticent. Sometimes he’d tell stories, always outrageous and half-believable. Sometimes they’d just lie here like this, lying close, dozing in each other’s arms. Ianto liked it: Jack was much easier to handle skin-to-skin than face-to-face.
Every night Ianto stayed a little bit longer, telling himself five more minutes, five more minutes, and then he’d go back to Lisa, and once or twice he’d ended up staying the night. Jack didn’t seem to mind: he never ordered Ianto to go, even if he wasn’t there when Ianto woke.
Jack stirred and Ianto thought about opening his eyes. “Holiday tomorrow,” Jack remarked. Ianto made an affirming noise. “Do you . . . want anything?”
Ianto opened his eyes. “Sorry?”
“For Valentine’s Day. It’s customary, right? For lovers to give each other gifts that day?”
Ianto pushed himself onto his elbow and looked down at Jack’s face, still damp and flushed from exertion. “I hadn’t thought we were those types of lovers.”
“We don’t have to be, if you’d rather not,” Jack said, looking like it didn’t make a difference to him one way or the other. He coaxed Ianto’s head back to his shoulder and Ianto lay down, confused.
In the morning he went out and bought roses: a dozen pink to split between Tosh, Suzie and Owen; red for Lisa (he’d have to sneak them in under his coat, but he’d snuck in far more obvious and incriminating things and no one noticed), but it was hard to know what to buy for Jack.
Finally he decided on a mix of red and pink, and hoped Jack didn’t know enough about flower lore to read much into it.
The girls were delighted with the flowers, Owen raised an eyebrow at him but said thank you, and there were little boxes of chocolates on his desk from all three of them which was far more than he expected. Jack was not in the office when he arrived, so Ianto left the flowers on his desk (there were gifts for Jack from the others as well, just as simple and non-meaningful as his own) and hoped he wouldn’t be questioned about them.
He took the red roses down to Lisa and put them on a small table at the side of her head. “Happy Valentine’s day, darling,” he said softly and kissed her forehead, and she turned her head towards his voice and opened her eyes a moment. “I love you,” Ianto said and he thought she might have smiled a little.
It was too much to hope that Jack wouldn’t say anything about his own flowers, of course: when Ianto took the first cup of coffee to him Jack held out a little badly-wrapped package to him, smiling. “Many happy returns of the day.”
“That’s for birthdays, sir,” Ianto said but took the package anyway, and because Jack looked so pleased with himself Ianto unwrapped it right there.
It was a small bag of high-end coffee beans.
Ianto wondered if anyone would ever notice that a gift used in work was not a gift at all. He said, “Thank you, sir,” and put the bag on his tray.
“You’re welcome. These are nice, by the way.” Jack had found a vase—just a simple thing, clear glass, really too small for the bouquet—and put the flowers in a place of honor beside the piece of coral on his desk. “Thank you. Friendship and lust, that sums us up well, doesn’t it?”
Ianto merely smiled at him and left his office, and put the bag of beans with his other supplies. The coffee they brewed was strong and faintly citrusy in flavor, but Jack never asked if he used them so Ianto never said he did.
One year, Ianto thought, was establishment, two was a habit. If he did this for a few years more—if his colleagues lasted that long, if he lasted long enough—he supposed it would be tradition.
Gwen loved her flowers, Tosh smiled warmly and kissed his cheek, Owen made noises about insects but left the flowers on his desk until they drooped. This year Tosh gave him flowers too, deep purple tulips that looked beautiful on his desk in the tourism office. Chocolates from Owen again, as well as Gwen, who took a moment to pat his back and say softly, “I miss him too.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ianto said and straightened up so she’d drop her hand.
He did not leave anything in the vaults for Lisa. He thought it was better that way.
He thought a lot about the pizza girl, about poor Annie, and the talks they’d had before she died. He thought about Suzie, too, and missed her a little.
He went out that night, just to a pub, and raised his pint in honor of Jack and the lost and fallen.
He wondered if Jack would ever come home.
Forgiving Jack was much simpler than not forgiving Jack, and far more rewarding. And things were different now, in a way that Ianto felt was subtle but powerful. They’d always teased and joked with each other, their verbal play a large part of what Ianto liked about Jack, but the deeper, gentler tone made Ianto feel they were on a threshold. There was nowhere to go from here but forward.
He bought the same flowers for Gwen as he had bought the year before, and thought that no one would last long enough to see this habit become tradition. This left him very gloomy indeed.
Except for Jack, of course: Jack would always be around.
Choosing flowers for Jack this year was a pleasure: he knew exactly what he wanted to say. Red and pink and white roses, an equal number of each, and because he felt generous and happy he bought Jack chocolates as well. They could eat them together—he’d always wanted to see if it was true that chocolate melted at body temperature and Valentine’s Day was a good day to find out.
He left the flowers and sweets on Jack’s desk, and pink roses on Gwen’s, and wished he could leave something for Owen at the nuclear plant. Tosh’s vault got a pink rose, and he stood there a moment with his hand on her nameplate, missing her terribly.
Ianto went into Jack’s office and leaned on his desk, smiling when he saw the smudge of chocolate beside Jack’s mouth. “Couldn’t resist, could you,” he said softly and Jack swallowed and wiped his mouth with his fingertips.
“If you didn’t want me to eat them you shouldn’t have given them to me.” He took another sweet from the box and held it to Ianto’s mouth. “Perfect as ever, Ianto.”
Ianto eat the chocolate and held Jack’s hand to kiss his fingers. Jack caressed his mouth and said in a brisk tone, “So, do we want to do something date-like tonight? Or just the usual?”
“I’m fine with either,” Ianto said comfortably. “So long as we end up shagging.”
Jack laughed. “Sometimes I think I’ve created a monster.”
“I take it upon myself to teach you good manners.” He hopped off the desk and bent to kiss the top of Jack’s head. “I—I’m glad I have you,” he said, and the look Jack gave him was warm and pleased.
One step at a time, he thought as he went back up to the tourism office. Maybe next year he’d be ready to leap.
2 thoughts on “Red, Pink, White”
The ending is sad (especially after CoE) because Ianto will never make that leap. sob Can’t wait to read the others. Very sweet.
Thank you! I know, it’s hard to reread some of my old favorite fics now and knowing it’ll never be even a possibility :(.