“You are in for a real treat,” Jack told Ianto as they strode through the streets of New Cardiff.
They’d travelled to the planet of New Wales in order to celebrate Ianto’s 500th birthday in style — according to Jack, anyway. Ianto was a bit puzzled as Jack refused to tell him exactly where they were headed. The planet bore little resemblance to Wales as it was dry, pleasantly hot and sunny, but it didn’t seem much different from dozens of other planets they’d visited. A wide range of aliens, quirky architecture, bustling streets and markets that seemed more like exotic bazaars than anything you’d be likely to find in Cardiff on old earth.
“There it is!” Jack pointed across the wide, sunlit plaza to a small, whitewashed café, tables under brightly coloured parasols arrayed in front of it. The sign above the doorway proclaimed it to be ‘Kit and Mip’s Coffee Emporium and Bakery’.
“That’s what we came all this way for?” Ianto raised a sceptical eyebrow.
“Hey, don’t judge by appearances! This place makes the finest fruit pies this side of the Horsehead Nebula!”
“Yep! Kit makes every kind of cake, cookie and pastry imaginable, but her fruit pies are legendary, better than any you’ve ever tasted, I guarantee it.”
Jack pushed open the door and they stepped from bright sunlight into the cooler, dimly lit interior. It took a minute for Ianto’s eyes to adjust, but when they did he was faced with a slightly disorienting sight; a cheerful, blue, lightly furred face hung upside down just in front of them.
“Friend Jack, welcome, it has been many years since you last graced us with your presence.”
“Hey, Kit, good to see you too.” Jack turned to Ianto. “Ianto, meet Kit, proprietor and head baker of this fine establishment. Kit, this is my gorgeous partner Ianto Jones.”
“Pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” Ianto greeted the human-sized bat hanging before him.
“Call me Kit, dear boy, anyone my dear friend Jack thinks so highly of is surely a friend of mine.”
Before Ianto knew it, they’d both been steered to the best table in the house and a human waiter had been despatched to fetch them a cooling drink of iced coffee. Kit hung upside down by their table, she and Jack catching up with what had been happening to each of them since they last met. Ianto listened in with curiosity and amusement, occasionally correcting Jack when he got his facts wrong.
“Kit’s a Masalai,” Jack explained to Ianto a little while later, “One of the few to have left their home planet.”
“My people as a rule are not terribly adventurous, preferring to snooze their lives away on Nyctimene. I was something of a… What is the earthian term? A dark sheep?”
“Black sheep,” Ianto corrected.
“Ah! That. I was not content where I was, I wanted to explore, to see other planets, meet other peoples, so when a trading ship arrived from a nearby world I begged the captain to be allowed to work in return for passage. That’s where I met my dear Mip. We travelled with various traders for many years, seeing everything and saving our wages until we could put a down payment on a small ship of our own, then when we tired of travelling we sold our ship and put down roots here, and here we have remained for the past ninety-four years. Now, the universe finds its way to us and we are well content with that.”
“Where exactly is Mip?” Jack asked, “I thought you two went everywhere together.”
Kit chuckled warmly.
“Much of the time we do, as I’m sure you and your Ianto do. However, sometimes it is necessary to be apart in order to get done all that needs to be done in this business. Mip is at market, buying fresh ingredients that I might bake for our many customers. She will return shortly and then I will create for you the finest pie I have ever made. This is a day to celebrate!”
Kit was as good as her word.
As soon as Mip had returned and been warmly greeted, Kit retreated to her kitchen and baked up the pie to end all pies, treating Ianto and Jack to a feast of epic proportions amid much laughter and excellent company as Kit and Mip together regaled them with tales of their travels and the many strange and wondrous sights they’d seen.
Afterwards, the Emporium’s proprietors went back to work, leaving their honoured guests in peace to digest their meal.
“You were right,” Ianto sighed some time later, slumped in a comfortable chair in the Coffee Emporium’s shady garden, feeling stuffed almost to bursting point. “It was well worth travelling halfway across the galaxy to sample the best pies in existence. I don’t think I’ll need to eat anything else for the rest of the week.”
From the other chair, Jack’s only reply was a soft snore. Apparently siestas were a universal idea. Ianto smiled softly.
“Good idea, think I’ll join you,” and with that he closed his eyes and drifted off, feeling sublimely content with the direction his life had taken and knowing this was one birthday that would live on in his memory to the end of time.
Even if that meant every fruit pie he tasted from now on, no matter how delicious it might be, would seem but a pale shadow of Kit’s extraordinary seven fruit Birthday Pie!