Here's a romantic little gift for my fandom friends who love Jack and Ianto as much as I do.
This is an M/M story with some same sex elements. If that offends now would be the time to leave.
The Perfect Gift
A Janto Holiday One Shot
(Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.)
There I stood, in the middle of a packed department store, bells jingling and children screaming, watching the poor rubes scurrying around in search of last minute gifts. Was I feeling a little smug? A touch superior? Why yes, yes I was.
Being the smart lad that I am, I had taken it upon myself during my last trip with The Doctor to purchase Ianto’s gift months before the maddening crush. He was going to love it and he would lose the small wager we had made about who could find the perfect gift for the other. Let’s face it, I am impossible to buy for. I know it, he knows it, the rest of the team knows it. What do you buy for the man who lives forever? Which is why I ended up with three bottles of cologne from Gwen, Owen, and Tosh that I’ll never use. As if anything synthetic can match my fifty-first century pheromones?
Yep, I was going to win this bet with my man Friday. I planned to reap the sexual benefits of the bet all night and probably over Christmas day as well. Ho-ho-ho. God, I was clever! Okay, technically using the TARDIS to travel back in time to get the perfect gift for your factotum/lover might not be following the rules, but I’m a rulebreaker. Ask anyone. They can tell you that Jack Harkness shuns the rules. Hell, he does more than shun, he flagrantly flaunts. Ianto had never said I couldn’t go back in time, he only said it had to be a heartfelt and thought-out gift. Something the other would love and use frequently.
I left the bedlam behind, strolling through Cardiff, hands clasped behind my back, pleased as punch to be heading to Ianto’s flat for Christmas eve. Fingers crossed no alien spacecraft chose the next two days to crash into Big Ben or plunge into Cardiff Bay. Even Torchwood deserves a day off from time to time. We hardly ever get them but we still deserve them.
I jogged up the stairs of his tidy little building and let myself in. The door was unlocked. I do not have a key. That’s a whole separate tussle that neither Ianto or I am ready to wrestle with yet. We’re barely able to say that we’re an item let alone have our mailing addresses be the same.
“Ianto?” I called, the soft sounds of Bing Crosby’s Christmas album playing on the stereo in the bedroom. I removed my coat and dropped it on the sofa then followed the smells of food into the kitchen. The tree winked and blinked at me as I passed it. I reached out to flick a small glass ball on a delicate bough. I peeked around the door frame. Seeing him moving around in his trousers and dress shirt sans tie and jacket was quite pleasurable.
“Jack, you’re early,” he said as he stirred cocktail sauce for the shrimp. I padded over, stuck my finger into the red sauce, and then licked it clean.
“Needs more horseradish.”
“Then give it a squirt.” He shoved the bottle of horseradish into my chest. I grabbed a quick kiss then let him slip past to attend to the platter of cheese and crackers.
“Tell me again why we’re doing all of this food when it’s just you and me.” I shook the plastic bottle, flipped the cap, and gave it a squeeze.
“Jack, you don’t have to squeeze it like it owes you money,” Ianto chuckled while slicing strong cheddar and placing it onto a platter decorated with little painted holly leaves. “We’re doing this because it’s Christmas eve and it’s what people who are in a situation like we are do.”
“You mean people who work together and fuck?” I stirred the huge glob of creamy horseradish around, my gaze darting to Ianto.
“Yes, exactly, people who work together and fuck.” He gave the ceiling a fast peek. That look always made me chortle just a bit. “Are you sure you want to exchange gifts tonight?”
“Definitely. I’m excited to give you yours and win the bet. I’ve been fantasizing about bending you over the couch and making love to you while we watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”.”
He looked appalled. That also gave me all kinds of pleasure. “That’s close to sacrilegious. How can you be humping away while an angel gets it wings?”
“It’s easy. I’ll show you in about…” I glanced at clock on the wall, “… ten minutes.” Then I gave him a randy wink and carried the shrimp and sauce out into the living room. After a moment, he followed, plate piled high with wheat crackers and cheese in hand. I motioned him to take a seat. He did and I went to my coat. From the inside pocket, I pulled out the rectangular package and presented it to him.
“It feels like a book.” He ran his fingers over the thick gold paper then played with the blue bow that held the wrap tightly to the tome. I sat down beside him, lounged back into the sofa, and crossed one leg over the other. “Is it a book?”
“Why don’t you open it and find out?”
His eyes, blue as the skies over Cardiff on a sunny day, brightened a bit as a smile pulled at the corners of his sensual mouth. He tugged on the ribbon. It fell off, puddling on his thighs in a cloud of soft curls. His gaze touched mine then returned to the paper. He carefully pushed the flaps open, taking care to lift the book up and gently turn it over.
“It’s a collection of Tennyson’s poems,” he whispered as if speaking the name would invoke the man's ghost.
“Open it,” I prompted. He gave me a long look and then tenderly lifted the front cover. “Dear Lord.” His fingers reverently ran over the signature on the inside of the book. “Is this really his autograph? But how? It’s addressed to me.”
He looked right at me, his clever mind whirling I could tell. “Do you like it?”
“Yes, of course. But Jack, how in the world…”
“You know that saying about gift horses? Same goes for gift captains. Read me something out of it.” He leaned over, pressed his mouth to mine and kissed me deeply. I so wanted to fling him to his back and gather my prize, but he still had to give me my gift. So, I thumbed his bottom lip tenderly and then nodded at the book in his hand.
He cleared his throat and began to read.
“I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley…”
When he was done with “The Brook” he closed the book, inhaled deeply, and then looked right into my soul.
“There is nothing that I could ever purchase that could match this gift. You’ve won.”
I sat up. “Why don’t you give me your gift and then we’ll decide who the winner is.”
He pushed to his feet, cradling the collection of Tennyson poems like a newborn, and headed off to the bedroom we shared. When I was here. Which was nearly all the time. What did that say about this plan to stay aloof, Jack Harkness? I got up and walked over to the tree. The smell of pine was fading but it still looked fine, the boughs dark green and the needles soft. I captured a few of those needles between my fingers, my attention on the softly winking lights. When was the last time I had a place that felt like a home? A real home? Not a bed in the Hub, but a flat with four walls and artwork, neighbors, bills, and carpet to be vacuumed. I couldn’t recall. It felt like centuries. Probably it was.
And in all that time I had never really realized how important it might be to have a place with a tree in the corner and a man who made shrimp cocktail because it was what people who were in a situation like we are do. To have gifts to buy, friends to send cards to, and fudge to make because it was what people in a situation like we are do. To have Bing Crosby playing in the background and crackers and cheese on the coffee table because it was what people who were in a situation like we are do.
“Here, it’s not much. Nothing like the gift you gave me.” He held out a small present, the size of a coaster for the coffee table. I turned from the tree, and my reflections, and lifted the lid of the silver box. Inside, nestled among soft red material, sat a wristwatch. My sight lifted to his. “It’s engraved.”
The watch was a good one, solid and weighty. “You know every time I wear this, I’ll think of you.”
“That was my plan,” he said and that shy, sexy smile of his appeared. I flipped the watch over and tried reading the inscription. “It’s Welsh,” he explained as I tried to untangle the confusing letters. “When you learn to speak the language then you’ll know what it means.”
“Tease.” I held the watch up so it caught the lights on the tree. “It’s perfect, really.” I fastened it around my right wrist, the weight settling nicely against my skin. “So, I guess we have a tie. What do we do about that?”
“Well, we could take half of my wager and half of yours. We could dance for a bit and then get busy in front of the telly.”
“Or, we could dance for a bit and then go to bed so I can make love to you properly.” I opened my hand and extended it. He placed his palm over mine.
“That does sound like a much better compromise.” He stepped close, his left hand settling on my hip. I captured his mouth, kissed him passionately, then spun him gently away from the tree. We danced to Bing singing “Mele Kalikimaka” and a slew of others until the need to be one was too strong to deny any longer. Afterward, I held him while he slept. Staring at the ceiling, I wondered if he knew that while I treasured the watch, the best present that he could have gotten me he had already unknowingly given me.
(Acknowledgements to “The Brook” by Lord Alfred Tennyson)
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