Characters: Jack, Ianto, Martha, Tom, Meriel, Nosy.
Summary: Jack’s barbecue turns into a bit of a disaster, thanks to the weather.
Word Count: 1210
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, Barbecue woes,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
“No need to go to all the trouble of preparing a meal for everyone,” Jack had said when he’d called Ianto earlier to say he was bringing guests home for dinner. “We’ll have a barbecue tonight; I’ll pick up sausages and burgers on the way home. It’ll be great! All you’ll need to do is throw a salad together. Martha and Tom are dying to see the baby.”
Apparently they’d travelled all the way across the country just to see the new addition to the Harkness-Jones family, and Jack was practically bursting with pride at the prospect of showing off his and Ianto’s firstborn to their friends.
“Lovely!” Ianto had replied. Everything he’d need for the salad was right there growing in their rooftop garden, but… “Better pick up some buns as well, and a bottle of ketchup.” Jack loved plenty of ketchup on his burgers; it wouldn’t do to run out.
“Will do,” Jack said cheerily. “We’ll be there around seven, okay?”
“Sounds good, see you all then.” Ianto was looking forward to spending a relaxing evening with their friends as much as Jack was.
Ever since Meriel had been delivered three weeks ago, Jack was back to eating meat, and loving it. While he’d been pregnant he hadn’t been able to stand the smell, so Ianto figured he was making up for lost time. Not that he was complaining, he’d been compelled to join Jack in a mostly vegetarian diet for the best part of nine months, only sneaking the occasional meat pie at work and thoroughly cleaning his teeth afterwards. He’d gone through an awful lot of breath mints.
A barbecue would be fun, and Ianto was perfectly happy to let Jack take over cooking duties for the evening, even though strictly speaking it was Ianto’s turn.
Meriel was asleep in her crib, under Nosy’s watchful eye, so Ianto went out to pick tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse, and cut a lettuce and some assorted salad leaves. He pulled radishes, baby carrots, and spring onions too, taking everything indoors to wash and prepare in the kitchen. After that, all that was left was to get the barbecue grill ready.
Jack arrived with their guests just before seven, his arms laden with bags. He’d got plenty of meat, buns, ketchup, and a couple of bottles of wine, although that was mostly for their guests; Jack and Ianto wouldn’t have much more than a glass each because neither of them wanted to be drunk in charge of a baby, even for the short time they could stay drunk thanks to the speed at which their healing powers eradicated the alcohol from their systems.
The first half hour or so of Martha and Tom’s surprise visit was spent cooing over the baby and opening the gifts the couple had bought for her. Then Jack changed into comfy casuals and went out into the roof garden to get the barbecue lit.
Soon burgers and sausages were sizzling merrily on the grill, sending up a delicious aroma. Ianto took plates and cutlery out to the table on the patio where they’d be sitting while they ate, topped up everyone’s wine glasses, and was just going back indoors to fetch the dish of salad when there was a flash of lightning, and a tremendous boom of thunder. Unsurprisingly it woke Meriel and she started to cry. He dashed inside to pick her up, but Nosy was already there, rocking the crib, humming soothingly, and Ianto smiled as his baby daughter’s cries faded away under the Fluff’s tender care.
The same couldn’t be said for Jack’s. An anguished wail went up from the garden. Rain was falling now, coming down in sheets, a sudden summer storm blown in off the sea, and it was wrecking Jack’s eagerly anticipated barbecue. “Argh!” he yelled. “Umbrella! I need an umbrella. Ianto! Quick! The sausages are getting wet!”
Detouring around the crib, Ianto dashed to the hall closet and got out the huge red umbrella Jack had given him some years ago. It was the only one they had that might be big enough to shield the barbecue from the downpour, but by the time he got back to the French doors, the wind had got up too much for it to be of any use. Martha and Tom, almost as wet as Jack, had abandoned their wine and were wresting with the old paint-splattered tarp from the tool shed, trying to keep as much of the rain as possible off the cooking meat, but the heavy drops had already almost put the glowing coals out.
Ianto stood in the doorway looking resignedly at the wreckage of what was to have been their meal. How typical of Welsh weather; it crept up on you when you weren’t paying attention. “Give it up and get inside, Jack,” he shouted over the wind and thunder as another bolt of lightning split the sky. “We’ve got plenty more sausages and burgers in the fridge; we’ll just have to cook them under the grill instead.”
“But I wanted a barbecue!” Jack stood beneath the deluge pouting, soaked to the skin and with rain running off the end of his nose. “I’ve been looking forward to it all day!”
“I know you have, cariad, but it doesn’t look like the rain’s going to let up any time soon, and barbecuing in a thunderstorm probably isn’t the safest idea. Besides, I doubt your sausages can be salvaged; they’re already drowned.”
With a sigh, Jack watched as the last of the coals winked out, then closed the lid of the barbecue and dripped his way towards the French doors.
“This is so not fair! My first barbecue in months, and it’s ruined by a stupid rainstorm.”
“There’ll be other barbecues, but next time maybe we’d better check the weather forecast before lighting the grill, avoid any more unpleasant surprises.”
Jack heaved a heavy sigh. “I suppose.” Shoulders sagging in defeat he trudged off to get out of his wet things.
Half an hour later, with Martha and Tom wrapped in borrowed bathrobes while their clothes dried, the friends sat around on the flat’s decadently comfortable sofas and chairs, eating grilled burgers and sausages and Ianto’s salad while the storm continued to rage outside, rain pouring down and the thunder rumbling noisily after every flicker of lightning.
Jack stared wistfully out through the French doors, now closed to keep the rain out. “So much for my barbecue.”
“At least you tried,” Ianto consoled his husband, patting Jack’s knee. “Better luck next time. Anyway, this isn’t so bad, is it? Here we are with our good friends and our Fluff, all of us warm and dry, enjoying a good meal, and with our baby girl fast asleep, dreaming sweet dreams.”
“There’s that,” Jack agreed, smiling across at the nearby crib where Meriel slept, untroubled by the storm now that Nosy had reassured her everything was fine. He raised his glass. “Here’s to good friends, family, and the barbecue that wasn’t.”
“We’ll drink to that!” Martha said, and they all clinked glasses.
Even if this wasn’t exactly the evening Jack had been hoping for, it was still one they’d all remember for a long time to come.