Word Count: 1757
Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Written For: m_findlow’s prompt ‘Ianto wishes people would stop buying him scarves for Christmas’, at torchwood_fest 2018.
Summary: Ianto already has far more scarves than he’ll ever need; the last thing he wants is to be given more.
Beta: My lovely friend milady_dragon. Thanks so much!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
The coldest part of winter was fast approaching; some would say it had already arrived. It was halfway through the last week of November and from a milder than usual start to the month, the temperature had dropped abruptly over the last two or three days, going from the high fifties right down to the low forties in the blink of an eye. Ianto had awoken that morning to heavy frost on the ground and the forecast for the night to come was widespread mist, maybe even fog. It was definitely time to dig out the winter warmers.
His winter coat, which had spent the last few months tucked away at the back of his closet, had been pulled out two weeks earlier so it could air before he needed to wear it. Ianto had put it away in late spring after having it dry-cleaned, so it had smelled a bit musty before he’d hung it out on the line to let the autumn winds freshen it up. He’d need something more than just a thick coat this morning though, so he opened the bottom drawer of his dresser and got out a knitted hat Jack had made for him the previous year, and a pair of black woollen gloves. Shutting the drawer again he straightened up; there was still something missing from his cold weather gear.
His eyes wandered without conscious volition to the four bulky old-style suitcases stacked on top of the two wardrobes that housed his suits, shirts, and jeans. He’d intended to throw the cases out years ago, after he’d treated himself to a matching set of modern lightweight luggage, but they came in handy for storage, something he’d found himself needing more and more of over the past few years.
Why did everyone seem to think that the best and most appreciated Christmas gift they could get for him each year was a new scarf? Was he that hard to buy for? He wouldn’t have said so, he could think of lots of gifts that would please him, but every year without fail Gwen, Owen, his nephew and niece, his distant great aunt, the old lady who lived next door, and no fewer than three people who came into the tourist office for various reasons, bought him scarves. That was how many? At least thirty-two in the last four years alone, by his reckoning. Perhaps they thought he looked cold. And of course, no matter which one he wore someone was almost bound to ask him why he wasn’t wearing the one they’d given him; didn’t he like it? What could he say to that? His usual excuse was that he’d been running late and had grabbed the first one that came to hand.
Steeling himself, Ianto moved his bedroom chair over to the nearest wardrobe, climbed up on it, and lifted one of the suitcases down, placing it on the window seat. The moment he triggered the catches the lid sprang open several inches from the sheer force of the wooliness crammed tightly within. He flipped the lid back and stared gloomily at the array of bright colours and patterns. The lurid green and orange scarf had been from Owen the year before last. The blue one with the snowmen and the white tassels was from Gwen, the multicoloured hand knit was one of his neighbour’s works of art, and the one that looked like a candy cane with its red and white stripes had been David and Mica’s gift to him last year.
He would have preferred to wear the nice, neat, understated black lambswool scarf he’d bought for himself in London just before he started work at Torchwood One. Despite being very warm and soft, it was short and thin enough that he could wear it tucked inside his coat instead of having to wind it several times around his neck like he did with all the others. Unfortunately it wasn’t in this suitcase and he couldn’t really spare the time to search through the other three. With his luck, no matter which order he checked them, it would be in the last one.
Closing his eyes, Ianto plunged one hand into the open suitcase, deciding he’d wear whichever scarf he picked out and hoping it wouldn’t be the orange and green one, which in his opinion would look better on a Halloween scarecrow. Thankfully it wasn’t, although the two and a half metres of yellow and black Hufflepuff scarf, another gift from Rhi’s kids, always made him feel like he was being attacked by a swarm of bees. He gave a resigned shrug; at least his hat, coat, and gloves were black so he wouldn’t clash. Tossing Hufflepuff onto his bed with his other things, he closed the suitcase but left it on the window seat. The only way to keep everybody happy was to wear a different scarf each day when the weather was cold enough; at least then he could honestly report that he was using them.
Putting his boots and coat on, Ianto tugged his hat down far enough to cover his ears, then picked up his scarf and wound it several times around his neck, so that both ends hung down the front. It was safer that way; there was less chance of shutting an end in a door and almost strangling himself, an experience he hoped never to repeat. Long scarves should come with a health warning; it was far too easy to get them caught on things.
Wrapped up against the cold, Ianto left the house, pulling his gloves on as he made his way to his car. There followed another one of winter’s less than appealing chores, namely clearing the frost off the car windows. By the time he was done he was sweating; taking his scarf off, he tossed it onto the passenger seat, climbed behind the wheel, and set off. At shortly after six-thirty in the morning it was still dark out, with very little traffic on the roads, so the drive didn’t take long and he pulled into the underground garage at a quarter to seven, parking in his usual space and making his way through to the main Hub.
Jack smirked when he saw him. “That time of year again already, is it?”
“Good morning to you too. What’re you on about now?”
“The cold weather gear is making its annual debut.” Jack gestured to the scarf draped over Ianto’s shoulders; it wasn’t needed indoors but Ianto had his hands full with his laptop and some files he’d taken home with him the night before. He could have left the scarf in the car, but he might need it later if he had to go out on a retrieval, or just to pick up lunch for the team.
“Heavy frost last night, and the temperature probably won’t go higher than forty-six today, if that, according to the local forecast.” Ianto plodded past Jack and up to the office, dumping the files and laptop on Jack’s desk, and shoving his hat and gloves into his coat pockets before hanging coat and scarf on the coat stand alongside Jack’s greatcoat.
“Nippy,” Jack agreed.
“And it’ll get worse before it gets better. I wish it was spring already.”
“Oh, but then you wouldn’t get to wear all your lovely scarves,” Jack protested.
“Lovely?” Ianto’s eyebrows went up at that.
“Don’t you like them?” Jack sounded surprised.
“I… appreciate their warmth on a cold day, but…”
Shoulders sagging, Ianto managed a wry smile. “Every Christmas half the people I know buy me scarves. I’ve already got far more than I’ll ever need, and to be perfectly honest, nobody seems to consider my likes and dislikes when choosing them, so most are garish and gaudy, and far too long for safety in our line of work. I just wish…” He trailed off guiltily, ashamed at how ungrateful he sounded.
“You wish what?”
“That people would stop buying me scarves for Christmas. I have four big suitcases crammed full of them, there’s no room for any more. If I’m inundated with them again this year, I’ll have to find somewhere else to store the new ones.”
“Say no more,” Jack said with a confident smile. “Leave it to me; I’ll see to it there isn’t a single new scarf in your Christmas stocking this year, and that’s a promise.”
“And just how do you plan on achieving that?” Not that Ianto actually believed a word of it, sure that he was doomed to be a scarf magnet again this year.
“Simple! I’ll just suggest a few alternatives that might prove more useful. No problem!”
Ianto didn’t know how he did it, but Jack was as good as his word; a month later, on Christmas morning, there wasn’t a single scarf among Ianto’s presents. Instead, he had seven pairs of gloves, three hats, and four pairs of slippers.
Jack, on the other hand, had somehow amassed a grand total of thirteen new scarves, in a wide range of colours and patterns, although he seemed a lot happier with them than Ianto would have been.
“Look at my new scarves! Aren’t they brilliant?”
Ianto would have said they were more of an eyesore than anything else, but then he and Jack had very different ideas of what colour combinations were pleasing to the eyes; Ianto sometimes thought his lover must be colour-blind. Still, he wasn’t so tactless as to say so, instead merely nodding. “Dazzling.”
“Best of all I don’t have to be envious of your cosy scarf collection any more,” Jack continued, beaming at Ianto as he tried to wrap all the scarves around his neck at the same time. “Because now I have a collection of my own.”
“I’m thrilled for you,” Ianto deadpanned. “But you won’t be so cheerful about it next year when everyone buys you the same thing again. You’ll soon be as inundated with them as I am.”
Jack shrugged. “If I wind up with too many I can always sew some together and make a blanket for myself out of them. Besides, it’s the thought that counts, not the gift.”
Looking at his brand-new glove collection, Ianto found himself smiling; Jack was right, they were both lucky to have so many friends and family members who cared about them enough to buy them Christmas gifts; he shouldn’t be complaining about their lack of imagination. “Well, at least neither of us is going to be cold this winter.”