It was rare for Jack and Ianto to get a day off together during the week. Usually, they’d try to get either Saturday or Sunday off, so they could spend the day as a family, but Tosh and Owen wanted to take the whole weekend to visit Tosh’s family in London for her mother’s birthday, and there was no way Jack or Ianto would refuse their friends’ request. Tosh so seldom asked for anything that on the rare occasions she did, both Ianto and Jack were agreed that they’d move heaven and earth to make it happen.
So here they were, on a cloudy but dry Wednesday, enjoying a wander around the St David’s Centre without having the kids pulling them in every direction at once. Meriel and the twins were at school, and two-year-old Rhosyn, already worn out from an hour at the play park, was napping in her stroller, leaving her parents free to talk to each other for a change. Ianto had almost forgotten what that was like.
In fact, it was Ianto, despite always claiming he wasn’t much of a talker, who was doing the bulk of the talking today. Jack was being surprisingly quiet, just ambling along beside his husband, who was pushing the stroller, replying to Ianto’s comments whenever a reply seemed to be expected, but mostly just letting him ramble. He liked seeing Ianto so relaxed and chatty, and it was a pleasure to let those gorgeous Welsh vowels wash over him like a soothing balm while his mind wandered aimlessly.
Thus it was that at first, Ianto didn’t notice that he’d lost his husband. He just continued on, chatting away, and passers by probably assumed he was talking to the sleepy little girl he was pushing, so no one gave him a second glance, except to smile at daddy and daughter. Rhosyn had her taddy’s curly hair and button nose, so it was obvious to everyone that they were related.
“What d’you think?” Ianto asked at length, then when no answer was forthcoming, he turned to Jack only to find he wasn’t there. “Jack?” He looked to his other side, then over his shoulder, before turning the stroller around and heading back the way he’d come, wondering how long he’d been talking to himself. Honestly, if he was going to talk then Jack should at least pretend to listen and not go wandering off.
He found his husband a few minutes later with his nose practically pressed to the window of a shop, gazing hungrily at the display.
“You know, if you’re going to just wander off like that, you could at least have the decency to tell me first. I’ve spent the last five minutes talking to myself.”
Jack didn’t even glance Ianto’s way. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, I was powerless to resist. I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul.”
Ianto frowned. “You what?”
Turning pleading eyes towards his husband, Jack gestured at the shop window, crammed full of wool in an eye-catching kaleidoscope of colour. “It called to me!”
“Of course it did.” Ianto smiled, knowing how anything brightly coloured, but especially wool, drew Jack like a magnet. Then the smile faded, replaced by a frown as a worrying thought hit him and he leaned closer to whisper, “You’re not expecting again, are you?”
“What? No, of course not!”
“That’s a relief; four kids are quite enough for now. And yet…” He looked pointedly at the window display. “You’re acting like a starving man faced with an all-you-can-eat buffet.”
“Winter’s not that far off and the kids are growing like weeds,” Jack pointed out, his fingers twitching. “Meriel’s hand-me-downs are useless for the twins; Gareth’s the only boy, and Jenna’s too much of a tomboy. She refuses to wear anything girly, and she hates pink with a vengeance. I thought if I started now, I could get warm woollies made for all of them before the really cold weather gets here.
Ianto snorted softly. “Any excuse to break out the knitting needles when you’re supposed to be doing paperwork.”
“I can do both!” Jack insisted. “I can knit while I’m reading reports. You know how restless I get; I might even get through some of the paperwork faster if I’ve got something to keep my hands busy.”
That seemed doubtful to Ianto, but still, Jack was right about one thing, new sweaters for their kids would definitely be needed come winter, and the quality of shop-bought knitwear was variable at best, unless they wanted to pay the earth. They could afford to, they weren’t short of money, but why deny Jack the pleasure of making clothes for their little monsters? Especially since he could tailor everything to their individual likes and dislikes.
“Please?” Jack begged, as if he thought he needed Ianto’s approval, which he really didn’t, although it was kind of sweet that he wanted it. “I promise I’ll make you a new winter sweater too, whatever you like!”
“You don’t have to bribe me, Jack, although I wouldn’t say no to a new sweater. The kids should come first though.” Ianto smiled. “Fine, we’ll get you some wool; just don’t go overboard, unless they deliver. We can only carry so much and there are a few shops I’d like to visit before we head home.”
His face lighting up, Jack grabbed Ianto and kissed him, right there in front of the passing shoppers. “Thank you!” Pushing the door open he plunged through, holding it for Ianto to follow with the stroller. As soon as they were all inside, he darted over to a display. “What do you think of this colour for Rosie?” He held up a ball of dusky rose-pink wool. “The brighter pink for Meriel, and maybe the turquoise for Jenna, or sky blue. Gareth will want purple again, it’s his favourite colour, and I should probably look at patterns too.”
Ianto chuckled. “Sounds like you’ll be knitting a rainbow. Take your time.” He checked Rhosyn, who was fast asleep, clutching her cuddly yellow and red dinosaur. “There’s no rush. If Rosie wakes up and gets restless, I’ll take her to the toy store and come back for you later.”
Jack hardly seemed to be listening, already flipping through a folder full of patterns for children’s sweaters and cardigans. Ianto picked up another folder, this one full of toy patterns, and began slowly turning the pages. Maybe he’d join in the knitting frenzy himself.