Genre: fluff :)
Word Count: ~2,300
Summary: It’s Ianto’s day off, and Jack is a bit surprised when he finds out what Ianto has been doing with his spare time.
Notes: Written for this week’s redisourcolor challenge. Theme = flowers. Title is from the e.e. cummings poem this is the garden:colours come and go. I don't usually write from Jack's POV, but this just sort of happened? And I hope you enjoy it. :)
It’s a beautiful, clear spring day, the first truly warm day Cardiff has seen this season, all blue skies and sun as far as the eye can see.
Jack is practically humming to himself, as he pulls the SUV up to Ianto’s flat. He knows it's Ianto's day off, but honestly, the hub had just been, well, boring without Ianto there. Jack had been practically crawling the walls of his office for hours, and it was barely lunch time.
He squints in the bright sunlight as he swings his legs out of the SUV, and grins down at Ianto's text message, which informs him that Ianto can be found "round back".
Jack didn't even know the flat had an "round back", but sure enough, he follows the shrubs around the outside of the house (Ianto rents out the first floor, a lovely older woman named Linette, the top) and finds Ianto on his knees, wrist deep in a patch of dirt that looks suspiciously like… Well, like a flower garden. Or the start of one, anyway.
“What is all this?” Jack asks, leaning over Ianto and pointing at the seeds in the trench closest to Ianto’s left shoe, watching as Ianto pauses to look up. He watches with fascination, as Ianto wipes dirt-covered hands over his trousers, smearing haphazard lines of dirt over his hips.
“Well, with any luck, that will be a patch of African lilies. Eventually.” Ianto pauses. “Hi, by the way. Quiet day in the office?”
“You have no idea,” Jack says, pulling a face. “Can I help?”
Ianto squints up at Jack curiously, sun catching his eyes so that they shine brightly for a moment before he blinks, ducking his head from the rays.
“Sure, I guess.”
Ianto takes one look at Jack’s outfit though, and frowns. “You’ll probably want to change out of your work clothes first. I’m sure I can lend you something more suited for gardening than a button-down and those braces,” he says with a wink.
An hour later, they’re making pretty good progress--two rows dug, and another on the way. Clearing out the weeds and leaves has proved to be a lot of work, though; Jack’s actually sweating. Despite the cool early-spring tinge to the air, the sun is hotter than it looks.
He’s changed into a pair of sweats, and one of Ianto’s old t-shirts; it's kelly-green and worn around the collar, and Jack thinks he just might end up “borrowing” it from Ianto, it's so damn comfortable. He’s sure Ianto would hardly miss it. Green’s not his color, for one thing, and he can’t remember the last time he saw Ianto wear a t-shirt anyway.
Jack kneels down next to Ianto, enjoying the breeze as it rustles the dead leaves they’ve just cleared away. There’s the smell of freshly cut grass too, and the whir of a lawnmower down the street somewhere. It feels so outdoorsy, so normal, his hands buried to the wrist in dirt and sod in the backyard like this. He half expects to see Linette emerge from upstairs, greeting them with two tall glasses of lemonade to complete the picture.
He nudges Ianto’s elbow. “I never would have taken you for a gardener,” Jack says cheerfully, pausing to wipe a bead of sweat from his brow before it continues on route to his eye. “Where’d you learn how to do this?”
Ianto shrugs. “I only know what the guy at the home and garden store told me.”
“So you just woke up this morning on your day off, and decided you fancied having a garden outside your kitchen window?” Jack says, working a clump of dirt under his fingers free from a root.
"Why not, right?"
Ianto flashes him a quick smile, just as the sun decides to hide behind a cloud. The bridge of Ianto's nose has taken on a distinctly red tinge, and Jack can't help but smile a little wider. Sunburn is definitely not something he thought he’d ever associate with Ianto Jones, but, well… He also never imagined the man would willingly spend his day off in a soon-to-be flower bed, either.
“I could go for a beer,” Ianto says a few minutes later, sitting back on his heels, and glancing over at Jack.
"But I'm just getting started," Jack protests, as Ianto rolls his eyes and stands, offering him a dirt-covered hand, which Jack accepts, standing up to his full height as the sun finds its way out again from behind the clouds.
“Some of us have been at this longer than others,” Ianto tells him with a smirk, and Jack follows him inside through the back door.
“So seriously, why the sudden green thumb?” Jack asks from the comfort of Ianto’s kitchen, after they’ve washed their hands, and Ianto has procured two bottles of beer from his fridge. At Jack’s insistence, he puts one of them back, exchanging it for a glass of tap water--business hours, after all.
Ianto’s kitchen is breezy and cool, the slight draft from the open window feels refreshing against the back of Jack’s neck, as he sips his water, and waits for Ianto’s explanation.
“Lisa always talked about starting a garden,” Ianto says, tipping the bottle back against his lips. “She wanted flowers, mostly, but vegetables, too. She had some seeds stored in the garage, so that’s where I started, but I’m not sure how far I’ll get.”
Jack smiles. “So you’re going to do vegetables after this?”
“Maybe,” Ianto says, and takes a sip of his beer. “Courgettes* don't seem like they'd be that hard. My mam did that for a bit, growing up.”
Jack ponders this for a moment, then smiles knowingly. “Okay, I get it. You want to be that guy…”
Ianto stops mid-sip, and stares at Jack. “What guy?” he says suspiciously.
“You know, the one who’s always bringing in bags from the garden to his coworkers!”
Jack pitches his voice low, affecting what in his mind sounds like a perfect Welsh country accent, “Got these from me garden, I did.”
“You sound Scottish,” Ianto says, rolling his eyes. “And I can assure you, I won’t be that guy. I’ll be lucky if I manage to get anything to grow at all.”
“Well, if you do manage not to kill everything first, I’ll be the first in line for those vegetables, okay?”
“Thank you so much, Jack,” Ianto deadpans. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“Ianto,” Jack says, reaching over and tugging at Ianto’s wrist with his fingers. “I was just kidding. I’m sure your garden will be perfect.”
Ianto just shakes his head, before he leans over, and plants a soft, slightly unexpected kiss on Jack’s lips.
He smells like dirt and hours spent in the sun and so many things that Jack never, ever thought he’d associate with him, and he’s a little surprised by how utterly mesmerizing it is.
He parts Ianto’s lips, and lets out a tiny hum of contentment when he feels Ianto’s toes curl around his ankles--they’d removed their shoes and socks upon entering Ianto’s spotless kitchen earlier. Before long, those toes start to creep up his leg, nudging at his calves from under the gathered edge of his sweatpants.
They stay like this, lips pressed together, unhurried, as the sunlight streams in through the window, setting the kitchen in a warm glow that reminds Jack of so many summer afternoons in so many places, but at the same time is so uniquely Ianto, that he knows he’d never actually mistake it for anything else. Ianto’s flat, Ianto’s kitchen table with the fading Formica top, Ianto’s lips pressed against his, and Ianto’s fingers, wrapped around the palm of his hand, a little dirt under his fingernails still, all the promise of the day laid out before them for the taking.
“I think I need to give you the day off more often,” Jack says softly, his face still close enough to Ianto’s to catch the fondness in his eyes, the tenderness in the lines of his face when he smiles.
He’d give this man anything he wanted, Jack thinks, he’d give him the world if he could, the moon and the stars, every silly cliché he could think of. The thought is so sudden and unexpected that Jack’s heart seizes up a little. He squeezes Ianto’s hand, just for a second, because he can’t help it, and Ianto just watches him.
He looks relaxed, content. He doesn’t let go of Jack’s hand, either, just keeps his fingers wrapped around Jack’s as if they do this every day, when really, Jack thinks this might be the closest they’ve ever come to sharing a normal afternoon together.
“This is nice,” Ianto says finally, before he stands up, moving his beer bottle and Jack’s empty water glass to the sink. He leans back against the kitchen counter. “I’m glad you stopped by.”
“Well, it was either this, or a pile of paperwork, and we all know what will happen to that paperwork if I just leave it for tomorrow, right?”
“Let me guess. Someone will finish it for you?” Ianto says, lowering his eyes. “I wonder who that might be.”
“Well, you see, I have this gorgeous Welshman who helps me out from time to time.”
“Lucky you,” Ianto says coyly. “He must be a saint, taking care of your dirty work.”
"Oh, he is, believe me."
Jack swings around to face Ianto, grinning lecherously.
If he didn’t know full well that it would completely hijack the rest of the afternoon, he’d have Ianto on his back on top of this table in a few seconds flat, no questions asked.
Jack really likes the idea of this garden though, can imagine Ianto coming out in the mornings before work, watering the soil, rows of flowers in front of him, maybe picking a few to bring in to the hub, brighten up the place a bit…
And if they want to get any real work done, they really should take advantage of the daylight.
“So what’s next,” Jack says, standing up quickly, and reaching for his shoes. “Courgettes?”
“I honestly have no idea,” Ianto admits. “Any suggestions?”
Jack thinks for a second. “What about leeks? Aren’t those pretty much the national vegetable?”
“Sure.” Ianto nods. “I can deal with leeks.”
“And we’ll have to plant something other than African violets.”
“Yeah?” Ianto is eyeing him curiously as he tugs on his socks and shoes. “There are some daffodil buds in the garage.”
“That works,” Jack says with a grin. “But we’ll have to do something else, too. Daffodils look terrible after they’ve been blooming for a while. You’ve got to have something else to hide all that dying foliage. Who wants to look at dead leaves all summer, right? Maybe some daylilies, something with some bright colors?”
Ianto is biting his lip now, staring at Jack.
“Well, I guess I know who to ask next time I need some gardening tips,” he says with a smirk. “I should have known you’d have done this before.”
Jack ignores him. “And just for the record, you know we should really be doing daffodils in the fall.”
“Right,” Ianto says, nodding. “But I figured I already had the bulbs, so…”
Jack nods in agreement. “The bulbs won’t last another season anyway. And you never know, some of them may make it.” He grins enthusiastically. “And we can take a look at vegetables too. Courgettes, leeks, maybe some onions... What about lettuce?”
“Sure, Jack.” Ianto nods, smiling, still looking a little amused. “You sure you don’t need to be getting back to the hub?”
Ianto is standing close now; he’s paused in the doorway, and is watching Jack expectantly, his face flushed with color thanks to the sun that’s been hidden for so many months now, and it’s all Jack can do not to reach over and pull Ianto towards him until their hips slot into place just so, make those lips his, and just let go, but…
He glances at his wrist, and realizes his watch isn’t there. It’s in Ianto’s bathroom, along with the rest of his clothes, folded neatly on top of the tiny dresser in the corner, almost as if they belonged there.
And maybe they do.
This is Ianto’s life, Jack thinks, all these little things that make him who he is that have nothing to do with the rift, or aliens, or perfect coffee and tailored suits.
These rows of vegetables, of daffodils, and African violets--growing something from a seed, digging into that soil with their bare hands. Creating something.
It lends permanence, maybe, to something that Jack knows he can never really hold onto.
Maybe that’s why it feels so important right now.
Jack shrugs in response to Ianto’s question, not wanting to think about the hub, or Torchwood right now, not wanting to think about anything but this, being here.
His eyes drift past Ianto’s frame, out the back door, to the green grass beyond it. In his mind’s eye he can see rows and rows of flowers, pinks and yellows and blues, all lined up in perfect, neat rows, like the stripes on one of Ianto’s impeccable suits, like the patterns on his ties.
“If anything comes up, they’ll know where to find me,” Jack says finally, smiling brightly.
“Perfect,” Ianto says, already halfway out the back door. “Because suddenly I feel like I can use all the help I can get. You’re going to show me everything Estelle ever taught you.”
Jack watches, a bit astonished, as Ianto turn to him with a curious smile.
“How did you…?”
Ianto just shrugs. “Lucky guess?”
Lucky, indeed, Jack thinks fondly, as he follows Ianto back out into the bright, mid-afternoon sun.
* courgette = zucchini, as eldarwannabe was kind enough to point out to me ♥
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