Birthday Planning

by badly_knitted [Reviews - 1]

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  • Teen
  • None
  • Drama, Fluff, Romance, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Written for Prompt 141 – Inspiration at fandomweekly.

“So,” said Tosh, wandering into Jack’s office and planting herself in front of his desk. With her best friend conveniently out of the Hub, fetching the team’s lunch, this was the perfect opportunity to get a private word with his lover.

Jack looked up from his computer screen, a puzzled frown on his face. “So? So what?”

“Don’t give me that, Jack. Ianto’s birthday is only a little over a month away, so what are you planning to get him?” Tosh regarded her boss calmly, her expression bordering on stern. “You don’t want to make a mess of things like last year. He thought you’d forgotten; he was depressed all day, spent most of his time hiding in the archives.”

“Um… That’s because last year I HAD forgotten,” Jack admitted sheepishly. “We’d had a busy couple of weeks, I lost track of the date, thought I still had a couple of days to organise something…” He trailed off at Tosh’s disapproving glare; Torchwood’s tech expert might be small in stature, but she was ferocious in defence of those she loved.

“Well, obviously you don’t want to make the same mistake again, do you? So I’ll ask again: what’s your plan this year?”

“I don’t have one. Yet,” Jack hurriedly added. “I’m still searching for inspiration, and it’s not going too well. Right now, I’m leaning towards just asking him what he wants.”

Tosh looked horrified. “Asking Ianto? That’s a terrible plan! Anyone would think you don’t know him at all! If you ask him, he’ll just tell you he doesn’t want you making a fuss over his birthday, that there’s nothing he needs or particularly wants, which is nonsense. He’d be hurt if you didn’t do anything special, but he needs to see that you’re willing to put some effort into making him happy. Something more than a generic birthday card and a bag of expensive coffee beans.”

“But he likes coffee!”

“I know, but he’d just use the beans here at the Hub, and it’s not exactly a personal gift, is it? Especially if he shares it with the rest of us.”

“Well, if it’s personal he wants…” Jack didn’t get a chance to complete his sentence.

“No, Jack, you’re not getting him a sex toy! Do you know what kind of message that sends? It tells him you’re only interested in his body! That you think of him as little more than a sex object!”

“That’s not true!” Jack protested.

“I know that, and deep down so does Ianto, but what he knows is sometimes less important than how something looks to other people. He wants to know he matters to you, that he’s important enough for you to put thought and effort into his birthday present.”

Jack slumped down deeper into his chair. “I’ve never been any good at picking out presents. It’s fine if someone mentions something they’d like, then I can just go and get it and know they’ll be pleased, but all the things Ianto mentions aren’t birthday sorts of things.”

“Such as?”

“Well, he was talking about getting a better desk lamp for his cubbyhole in the archives.”

“Work-related,” Tosh said dismissively.

“Exactly. I told him to find one he likes, put in a requisition, and I’d authorise it.”

“What else?”

“A new vacuum cleaner because the one at his house died.”

“Definitely not the sort of thing you buy your lover for his birthday.”

“Give me some credit; even I wouldn’t be that stupid,” Jack agreed.

“I should hope not.”

“Why is Ianto so hard to buy for? I just want to make him happy. I can take him out to dinner, and get him a good bottle of wine or whiskey, but…”

“You did that last year,” Tosh finished for him.

Jack shrugged. “I needed something quick and that was all I could think of.”

“What about something for his house?”

“I thought we already agreed household appliances aren’t good gifts?”

“Not that sort of thing, something decorative. A painting maybe, a framed photo of the two of you, or an antique clock. Or how about something for the garden?”

“He did say something a few days ago about getting a compost bin. No, okay, that’s not even remotely romantic,” Jack hastily added when he saw the look on Tosh’s face. “I could book us a few days away somewhere sunny, Greece perhaps, or the Algarve. Only problem with that is, he might end up having to go alone, which sort of defeats the purpose.”

Tosh smiled ruefully. “Taking time off from this job can be tricky.”

Before any more brainstorming could be done, Ianto arrived back with lunch, and everyone trooped up to the boardroom to eat. When the meal was over, despite listening closely to everything his lover said, Jack still had no idea what to do for Ianto’s birthday. Inspiration was conspicuously lacking.

That evening, Jack went home with Ianto, and they sprawled on the sofa in front of the telly, eating fish and chips while watching back-to-back episodes of Antiques Road Trip, something they both enjoyed.

“Why do they always buy those rusty old advertising signs?” Jack asked between mouthfuls.

“Dunno. I wouldn’t want stuff like that hanging around. They’re collectors’ items though, usually make a good profit. Now that…” Ianto pointed at the screen. “That’s something I’d buy. I know it’s daft, especially with where I live, but I’ve always liked them. My gran had one in her garden. Totally impractical, but I think they’re amazing.”

“Stone garden gnomes?” Jack asked in disbelief, and Ianto burst out laughing.

“No, you twpsyn! Behind the gnomes, the antique sundial! I can just imagine how one of those would look, sitting at the corner of the lawn. I looked at some modern reproductions last time I was at the garden centre, thought of maybe getting one, but they’re not the same, there’s no history to them. It’s the old, weathered stone ones that appeal to me, the ones that were in use hundreds of years ago. They’re ridiculously expensive though.” He snorted then. “Lovely sundial just sitting there, and Phil buys a rusty old feed trough. He’ll make a profit on it too; he always does. Rust, woodworm, or both, and he rakes in the money. I don’t know how he does it. He's the expert though, after so long in the business I suppose he has a good grasp on what sells.”

Jack didn’t say a word; he was too busy working out where he might get an antique sundial for Ianto’s birthday.


The End