Title: The Perfect Moment
Characters/Pairing: Jack/Ianto, OFC Ceri Evans
Word Count: 1767
Summary: Ianto thought it was just an ordinary shopping trip, but it turned into something he never would have expected.
Warnings: None really. If you’ve read my fics before, you know what to expect – humour, fluff and silliness, with a little romance thrown in for good measure.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
A/N: I started writing this way back in 2010; it was to be one of my first fics but I got in a mess with one small section early on and abandoned it. I remembered it again a few months ago while I was writing First Date Nerves and decided to have a bash at sorting it out, finally finishing it last year. I think it’s all the better for the long wait, I have more experience at writing the characters now and I think it shows.
A/N2: I’ve been sitting on this one since I finished writing it, waiting for the perfect moment to post it and what could be a better occasion than my 1000th LJ post? So finally four years after I started writing it, here it is! Hopefully you’ll think it was worth waiting for!
“Bollocks,” Ianto muttered to himself, scanning the contents of their shopping trolley as they stood in the checkout queue at ASDA one busy Friday evening.
“What’s wrong?” asked Jack.
“Forgot the eggs.”
“Stay put, I’ll get them. What do we want?”
“Better get a dozen. And make sure they’re free range.”
“Yes Sir!” Jack saluted smartly, before taking off down the store at full speed. Ianto winced as several shoppers had to swerve their trolleys out of his path, narrowly avoiding a pile-up. Shaking his head, he turned back to his own trolley and inched it forward in the queue, wishing they could have fitted in the shopping when the stores weren’t so busy, but the Rift had been going crazy all week and they’d been run off their feet.
“Ianto? Ianto Jones, it is you! This is the last place I expected to run into you!” An oddly familiar voice right at his elbow made Ianto jump and he spun around to find a face from his past grinning up at him.
“Ceri Evans! I had no idea you were back in Cardiff! No one tells me anything these days,” he grumbled, before sweeping the woman into a bear hug. “Look at you! How long has it been?”
“Far too long! Look how tall you are now! I can remember when we were the same height!”
Ianto rolled his eyes, laughing.
“We were twelve!”
“God, that was a lifetime ago, wasn’t it?”
Pulling back, she stared at his loaded trolley.
“Good Lord, you’ve got enough there to feed an army!”
“I wish. Some of it’s supplies for work, but we’ll be lucky if the rest lasts us a week,” he said with a sigh, gazing moodily into the trolley himself.
“Well, at least it doesn’t look like you need to watch your weight,” Ceri commented, eyeing her old friend and prodding him in the middle. “You’re looking fit in every sense of the word!”
Ianto shrugged sheepishly.
“I exercise a lot,” he explained. “Running.”
Last week when that mysterious object exploded, setting fire to his trousers, and he’d had to jump into the Taff to put himself out.
Weevils again - damn, they were heavy for their size. And Jack; every time he got himself killed in an inconveniently public place, Ianto had to move him somewhere less conspicuous until he revived.
“Full body work-outs.”
Surely a few hours in bed with Jack counted as a workout?
“Lots of running up and down stairs.”
Especially since the lift in his building broke two months ago. Wasn't it enough that he'd already had umpteen flights of stairs in the Hub to contend with? Apparently not.
“I like to keep in shape.”
Not that the job really gave him any choice in the matter. None of the team were carrying an ounce of excess weight.
“Well it suits you. And to think the other kids used to tease you for being pudgy.”
“You never did.” Ianto smiled at her fondly, remembering all their childhood escapades. “What happened to us? All those years living next door to each other, hanging out together, promising to be best friends forever…”
“You left. Told me you were getting out while you still could and just took off.”
“I did, didn’t I. Sorry. I wrote you though. Tried phoning too, but your number was disconnected.”
“I never got any letters. Two weeks after you left to seek your fortune, dad got offered a job in Newcastle. So we packed up, left the estate and moved up North.”
“I wondered why you never replied. I really missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
“So what brings you back to Cardiff?”
“Oh Ceri, I’m so sorry. What happened?”
“Heart attack.” She smiled wanly. “Six weeks ago. It was very sudden.”
“He was a good man.”
“Thank you. He was. He hated Newcastle, but he was earning good money and with it just being the two of us… Well, he wanted me to have the best education he could afford, put me through Uni, but he always wanted to come back here. Cardiff’s been home to the Evans family for generations. He’s buried beside mum now, where he belongs.”
Ianto hugged her again.
“I wish I’d known. I would’ve been there for you. Are you going to stay?”
“Yeah, I got a job in the library and a little flat in Splott. What about you?”
Before Ianto could reply, Jack returned, brandishing a box of eggs.
“I found the eggs, free range as ordered!” Leaning past Ceri, he popped them into Ianto’s trolley. “Hi, who might you be?”
Ceri found herself on the receiving end of a blindingly white grin.
“Jack, meet Ceri Evans, we were neighbours and best friends growing up. Ceri, this is Jack Harkness, my…” Not quite knowing how to explain, Ianto turned to Jack. “I never know how to introduce you. Do I say you’re my boss, colleague, friend…?”
Jack took over.
“Your boyfriend? Lover? Partner?” He hesitated for a moment then added, “Your husband?”
Ianto rolled his eyes.
“Jack, be serious.”
“I am. I mean, you could be, if you wanted. I know I’d like that.”
Ianto stared at him, speechless, looking into those amazing blue eyes and fully expecting to see the familiar glint of amusement that would prove Jack was just teasing him. It wasn’t there. Jack looked earnest, not to mention nervous and a little shy.
“Seriously? You’re proposing in the checkout queue at ASDA?”
“I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment.”
Ianto looked completely confused by that statement.
“You think this is the perfect moment?” His eyebrows didn’t seem to know how to react.
“NO,” Jack almost shouted, then continued more quietly, “It’s about as far from what I’d imagined as it’s possible to get, but if I keep waiting for the perfect time and the perfect setting, I’ll never get anywhere. I’ve been trying for weeks, but something always goes wrong. Remember that picnic I took you on last month, when the heavens opened while we were eating and we had to grab everything and dash back to the car?”
“Vividly. Every time I thought it couldn’t rain any harder, it did. Don’t think I’ve ever felt so wet in my life.”
“I was going to ask you then, but we were both drenched and you were turning blue with cold. Really not romantic. Besides, your teeth were chattering so hard I don’t think you would have heard me. Then three weeks ago, the weekend away that I’d planned? We had to cancel at the last minute because both Gwen and Owen got that summer flu and we couldn’t leave Tosh running everything all by herself.”
Ianto nodded. He was starting to see a pattern.
“Two weeks ago, dinner in that new restaurant. Before we even got to the main course, the chef accidentally set fire to the kitchen and the entire restaurant had to be evacuated. I almost proposed then, it was so much like our first date, but we were both too busy coughing from the smoke.”
“We do seem to be slightly jinxed.”
“And then there was last Friday. I had it all planned; I was going to whisk you off to London for the weekend. Never got a chance to tell you because some idiot smashed into your car and you spent most of the day talking to the police and trying to get your insurance company on the phone. I’m tired of waiting. So, Ianto Jones…” Jack went down on one knee in the middle of the queue, “Will you do me the honour of becoming my husband?”
Ianto stared at him for a long moment, completely lost for words for the second time in a matter of minutes. This certainly wasn’t what he’d been expecting when they’d set out to do the weekly shop.
Then again, life with Torchwood was always crazy. Sometimes you didn’t make those perfect moments, just had to grab them when they happened, and it seemed to Ianto that this was one of those times.
Smiling, he turned back to Ceri.
“This is Jack. He’s not my husband yet, but he’s going to be.” Looking down at Jack again, he added, “In case you didn’t notice, that was a ‘Yes’. Of course I’ll marry you. Now get up, you twpsyn, you’re holding up the queue!”
Jack scrambled to his feet, his grin so wide Ianto was slightly worried that half his head might fall off.
“He said yes!”
The entire queue and everyone around them broke into spontaneous applause, and the store manager, alerted to what was happening by a member of staff, approached with a bottle of champagne and a smile almost as wide as Jack’s. This would put her one up on the managers of the other local branches; she was going to make the most of it.
Ceri grinned, hugging both Ianto and a slightly startled Jack, who quickly made the most of the opportunity.
“I’m so happy for you both!”
“Don’t be too happy, this means I’m stuck with him permanently,” Ianto joked.
She punched him lightly on the arm, laughing.
“We have some serious catching up to do.” Scrabbling in her bag, she found pen and paper, quickly scribbled down her phone number and stuck it in Ianto’s breast pocket. “Call me.”
“I will. Soon. I promise.”
He didn’t get the chance to say anything else, because then Jack was kissing him, and the crowd were clapping, whistling and cheering.
Ianto mentally shrugged. Ah well, sometimes you just had to go with flow. Winding his arms around Jack, he returned the kiss enthusiastically.
Ceri smiled and started piling Ianto’s groceries onto the checkout. It looked like the two men might be a bit tied up for a while and someone needed to get the queue moving again.
Standing like an island in the tide of moving shoppers, dimly aware of hearty slaps on his back and people congratulating them both, Jack tightened his hold on Ianto and tuned out the rest of the world. Nothing else mattered but the two of them. They’d overcome every obstacle that had been thrown in their path to get to this moment and even though the setting might not have been the one he would have chosen, he couldn’t help thinking that in the end, that wasn’t important. After all of his doomed attempts to create the perfect romantic proposal, he’d finally taken the plunge at the first opportunity that had presented itself.
And it had been just perfect.