Looking back over his extraordinarily long life, Jack could remember countless terrible days. Why was it that the worst events in a person’s life always seemed to imprint themselves so indelibly? With painful clarity he could recall the day the raiders had come, taking his brother and killing his father, the moment he’d discovered he was missing two years’ worth of memories, stolen by the Time Agency, the horror of watching the TARDIS fade out of existence before his eyes, leaving him stranded alone aboard the game station… Then there’d been his months of torture at the hands of Alice and Emily, nothing more to them than a guinea pig for their experiments, a whole year devoted to the Master’s cruel whims, the heart-breaking deaths of good friends, and of long-ago lovers, coming home and finding that Lucia had left him, taking their daughter with her… Some days the list seemed endless.
The good days should have been easier to count; there were far fewer of those. Wedding days, the births of his children, victories against overwhelming odds… Those were all days that deserved to be celebrated, and remembering them brought him joy, but had any of them ever been quite as perfect as this one?
He was pulled from his reverie by delicious Welsh vowels, their power over him undimmed by countless years of familiarity.
“Penny for your thoughts? Or should that be a Galactic Credit?” Ianto teased.
“A single Galactic Credit wouldn’t go far these days; they’re not worth as much as they used to be. Inflation is a universal concept.” Jack smiled lazily at the man he loved with all his heart. “I was just trying to remember if there’s ever been a day more perfect than this one.”
“And has there?” Ianto propped himself up on one elbow to look down into Jack’s face.
“Not that I can recall.” Gazing up at Ianto through half-closed eyes, Jack batted away the long blade of grass that was tickling the tip of his nose. “Stop that, you fiend!”
“Fiend, is it now?” Laughing, Ianto tossed the grass aside and leaned in for a slow, sensuous kiss instead.
The sky overhead was a flawless summer blue, unmarred by the faintest wisp of cloud. The sun’s gentle warmth reached the two men even here in the dappled shade, where they lay beneath the spreading branches of a massive tree. It towered above them like a cross between an oak and a giant sequoia, but with leaves a good eight-inches across and shaped like Japanese fans, glossy blue-green above and silvery underneath. Paradise couldn’t have been any more perfect. Large flowers in pastel colours filled the air with a sweet yet delicate scent, and flying lizards whistled and chirped as they flitted about the forest and the wide-open meadow beyond, feasting on ripe berries and the abundant nectar of the flowers.
“I’m glad we came here,” Ianto murmured when the kiss ended. “We deserved a break, and it’s such a beautiful place.”
“It is,” Jack agreed. “And I’m glad you’re here with me.”
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” It was the simple truth; Ianto would have been happy anywhere as long as Jack was there with him.
“You don’t regret leaving earth again?” Cardiff had been their home for so long that uprooting themselves from all that was familiar had been a wrench for both of them, even when embarking on short trips, but this time they had no immediate plans to return.
“We’re not needed there right now,” Ianto pointed out. “Can’t spend the rest of forever hand-holding humanity. They’ll have to learn to stand on their own two feet eventually and it might as well be now. It’s about time we put our own needs first.”
“You won’t get any argument from me.” Jack rolled over, tipping Ianto onto his back, then dipping his head to kiss the tip of his husband’s button nose.
“Get off, you daft sod!” Ianto protested, chuckling.
With a final nip to Ianto’s nose. Jack pulled back, grinning. “I can’t help myself, you’re irresistible.” He gazed down into Ianto’s eyes for a long moment, an inscrutable smile curving his lips, before asking, “How would you feel about staying here for a few years?”
Ianto gave the unexpected question some thought, turning his head first one way and then the other to evaluate their surroundings. “It’s a lovely spot, but it might get a bit draughty and damp in bad weather, and foraging for food could prove difficult. There’s a lot of competition for available resources.” He gestured at the lizards.
A snort of exasperated amusement escaped Jack. “I meant this planet, not under this tree! Maybe one of the small settlements we passed on the way out here.”
“Ah, well in that case, I think I could be persuaded.” Of all the worlds they’d visited recently, this one was the most appealing, unspoiled, with a warm climate, and picturesque settlements that blended perfectly into their surroundings. The people who’d colonised the planet a few centuries earlier were similar to humans, and several other races had also settled there. “But I thought you wanted to explore the universe?”
“There’s plenty of time for that. We can’t go everywhere and see everything all at once; got to leave a few places to visit at a later date. Besides, as nice as our spaceship is, it’s not the ideal environment for raising children.”
“No, I suppose it’s not,” Ianto agreed. Then something twigged. “Wait a minute, are you…?”
Jack grinned. “Yep! Not a hundred percent certain, but I’m pretty sure.”
There hadn’t been children in the Harkness-Jones household for well over a century. They’d chosen to remain on earth until a couple of decades after the last of their children had passed away.
“A new home and a new family,” Ianto breathed, his eyes lighting up. What could be more perfect than that? The first branch of the family tree to be born away from earth.
A short distance away, Nosy roused itself from where it had been napping in the sun and hummed a sleepy question. The Fluff was getting on in years, and less energetic than it used to be, although it still had a good few centuries ahead of it.
“Looks like we’ll be staying here for a few years,” Jack told it. “How does that suit you?”
“HUM!” Nosy radiated enthusiasm. Travelling the universe in a spaceship, exploring, and meeting new people was a lot of fun, but Nosy did often miss being outside, enjoying sunshine and fresh air, smelling the flowers, and watching the wildlife. It liked the idea of having a new young one to raise as well. With a new baby on the way, it would soon need to start the process of budding a Flufflet, so the child and its playmate could grow up together.
“We’ll have to go house hunting, see what’s available and find somewhere we all like,” Ianto said thoughtfully.
“Mm,” Jack agreed, flopping back onto the blanket beside his husband again. “We will, soon, but not today.” Days as perfect as this one came along too rarely to waste on things that could wait. Right now they had glorious weather, the remains of an excellent picnic lunch if they got peckish, and no reason to rush.
“You’re right; the house hunting can wait a few days. We’ll be run off our feet soon enough so we might as well enjoy relaxing while we can.”
Jack sighed contentedly, reaching to twine his fingers through Ianto’s as they lay in the shade, gazing up into the spreading branches overhead and letting the warmth and the chirruping of the native wildlife fill them with contentment. “My thoughts exactly.”