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The Garden
Something light and fluffy.  Thanks as always to my beta-extraordinaire triquetralin
(I couldn't figure out how to credit the photo, so I tried deleting it, but I couldn't figure out how to do that, so forgive me, I deleted and reposted.  Won't be adding pics again unless they're mine.  Sorry Lin, that deleted your comment).

Genre: Torchwood
Characters: Jack, Ianto, OC
Warnings: none
Rating: G
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood or any of its characters or plots.

The Garden

Ianto was cleaning out the fridge when Jack came up beside him, narrowly missing being hit by a reeking tinfoil mass.

“Oh, sorry Jack,” Ianto said as he peered around the fridge door at Jack's squawk of surprise. “You usually give better warning when you sneak up on me.”

“I resent that. I sneak amazingly well!”

“This time you did. What's up? I'm a little busy.”

“Not any more.” Jack leaned on the fridge door, closing it decisively. “Answer me a question.”

“Hey, I wasn't finished!” Ianto leaned back on his heels and sighed. “Okay, what?”

“Have you been outside today?”

Frowning, not sure why this was relevant when he had work to do, Ianto said, “No, why?”

“And you slept here last night, yeah?”

“Yes. Really Jack, what has this to do with ...”

“What about yesterday?”

“Well, I came in from outside when I arrived at six o'clock for work,” Ianto answered, a little sarcastically.

“Thought so.” Jack held out his hand.

“My hands are dirty.”

“Wash them, then and let's go.”

“Where? God, Jack, you have such a flair for drama and mystery.”

Winking with panache, Jack grinned. “I do, don't I?”

Laughing, despite his irritation, Ianto stood and quickly washed up at the sink. He was barely given time to finish drying his hands, or roll down his sleeves before Jack grasped one of his hands and tugged him out of the kitchenette. He headed for the stone block that rose up through the Hub to a perception-altered entrance. It was the Hub's “invisible” lift, and the most direct route to Roald Dahl Plass.

Well accustomed to the lift, Ianto stood, relaxed, enjoying the feel of Jack's hand in his, until the block jerked to a halt on the Plass.

“Outside,” Jack murmured in Ianto's ear. “Remember it?”

Ianto sucked in the sweet spring air. Twilight was just falling, but it was warm and fresh. “Vaguely.” He nuzzled Jack, secure in the fact that until they stepped off the stone block, neither of them would be noticed.

“Fancy an evening stroll, my dear?” Jack said in his drollest British accent, which wasn't very good.

“Yes, kind sir. Let's.”

The Plass was full of tourists and young lovers. Keeping hold of Ianto's hand, Jack stepped off the stone and headed in a purely arbitrary direction. Ianto still wasn't used to open displays of affection. He argued that it wasn't his thing, that he and Jack didn't need to define or justify their relationship, or that it just seemed too possessive to walk hand in hand, but the fingers curled around his were warm and caressing and the sensations coursing through him tonight couldn't be denied. For once he wasn't going to care.

They ended up on a small residential street. Only a few blocks long, it seemed steeped in age and mystery. Neither of them had noticed it before. The houses were old but well-kept, semi-detached, with small, neat front gardens. Each house had a different coloured door, creating a rainbow effect down the block.

“Oh look!” Ianto pointed with his hand still in Jack's grasp. The captain knew exactly where Ianto meant. Halfway down the block on the left one garden seemed to be bursting out of its stone wall confines. They could smell the flowers two houses away and as they drew closer, Ianto's eyes glistened.

“Wow,” he breathed. Leaning his hip against the low stone wall, Ianto sniffed deeply. “See that patch there, those are asters. There are peonies over in the corner. Oh, and look at the pansies! Gorgeous colours.” He noticed that Jack was looking at him. “What?”

“Asters, peonies and pansies, oh my!” Jack grinned. “You know flowers?”

“Yes, so?” Ianto let go of Jack's hand, feeling self-conscious and embarrassed.

“So, nothing!” Jack held up his hands in submission. “I'm impressed. Tell me more.” He leaned against Ianto's tall body, nodding to a bunch of tall stalks with dark purple flowers. “What are those?”

“Lupins.” Ianto grinned. “You can recognize the roses, I'm sure. Oh and lavender – I can smell it! Where is it?” His eyes scanned the riot of colour.

Jack was sniffing a fat, heavy, white rose that drooped over the dark stone wall when he felt Ianto stiffen beside him. He looked up and followed Ianto's gaze.

An elderly lady stood on the threshold of her bright red door, a tea-tray rattling in surprise as she spied the two men.

“Oh! You gave me a bit of a fright!” Despite being startled, her voice was sweet and lilting.

“We're sorry,” Ianto explained. “We were just admiring your beautiful garden.”

“Why thank you.” She shut her door and took a firmer grip of the tray. Her sharp, bright eyes caught the closeness of their stance and she smiled. “I take tea out here every evening, when it's nice.” She started walking towards a small iron table and chair set on the grass beside the lupins. On her tray was a large Brown Betty teapot and an old, worn-looking, mismatched teacup and saucer.

Jack boldly hopped over her gate and rushed to take the tray from her hands. “Allow me, miss.”

She laughed, not knowing that to Jack, she was young enough to be his granddaughter. “You are a charmer!”

“I try.” Jack winked and she tittered again.

“Come on, Jack. Let's not bother the nice lady,” Ianto said, indulgently.

“You're not bothering me.” She smiled up at Jack, taken by his dimpled chin and bright blue eyes. “In fact, let me fetch two more cups. Please join me.” She made for the door.

“Oh no, that would be imposing,” Ianto protested.

“Please. As lovely as the flowers are, it's a bit lonely sitting in the garden by myself.”

At that, Ianto couldn't resist. Jack was already peering at the tall blooms as though he lived there, brushing off petals and tucking dirt around the stalks. “Thank you, it would be a pleasure.” Unlike Jack, Ianto opened the gate properly and let himself in while the old lady spryly rushed off into the house.

She came back a few minutes later with another tray, this time with a plate piled high with scones, two more mismatched cups and saucers and jars of cream and jam. Ianto helped her with the tray this time, setting each item, rather than the whole tray, on the table. Jack held her seat and she was obviously thrilled at the attention.

“Now, I won't stand on formality. My name is Lily Parson but I insist you call me Lily.”

“Pleased to meet you, Lily. I'm Captain Jack Harkness and this is Ianto Jones.”

Ianto bowed slightly as he sat down on one of the iron chairs.

Lily couldn't have been less than eighty but she had the voice and bright eyes of a young girl. She laughed heartily at Jack's teasing and answered Ianto's questions about the garden with true pride.

“My father attributed my love of flowers to my name and was always overly proud at having thought of it. He would say 'My Lily could grow an ailanthus out of an anteater's ...'” she stopped, blushing slightly. “Well, he was a bit of a coarse man, so I won't finish that sentence.”

“I rightly imagine you could,” Ianto said, dreamily as he gazed at the swaying blossoms, then, realizing what he insinuated, blushed brighter than Lily had, while she and Jack roared with laughter.

“You two boys are a delight to an old lady's heart,” she said, wiping her eyes. “I miss my Peter. He would come some evenings and take tea.”

Ianto nodded sadly, although he wasn't sure if Peter was her husband or son. “Oh, has he been gone long?”

She looked at him, startled and then patted his hand. “Oh he's not dead, Ianto dear! Peter's my son and he is alive and well, living only a mile away. But his partner Michael gets allergies, hates bees and won't tolerate dirt.” She wrinkled her nose. “Oh, they visit properly, in the house, but won't sit in the garden any more. He's such a whinger!”

“Well, I am sorry to hear that!” Jack said with emotion. “Maybe poor Michael won't be long for this world and Peter can start taking tea in the garden again.”

Lily smiled. “One can hope!” Then she covered her mouth like a schoolgirl. “Oh dear! I shouldn't be so petty. He is a nice boy and loves my Peter so.”

“Jack has a bit of an odd sense of humour. Please forgive him.” Ianto thought of kicking Jack under the table but wasn't sure he would connect with the correct shin.

A gust of wind made the napkins flap wildly and Lily pulled her cardigan closer around her shoulders in the increasing twilight. The sun had finally set, muting the colours of the garden and all the scones had been eaten.

“We've had a lovely time, Lily, but I think we should take our leave.” Ianto stood and started transferring empty cups and plates to one of the trays.

“It has been nice. Thank you so much for staying. It's not often I have the company of two such handsome men.”

Jack helped her across the garden in the dim light, while Ianto followed with the trays and dishes stacked neatly. With tactful courtesy, he followed her through to the kitchen where he put the items on the counter before she escorted him back to the door.

“Thank you again for a lovely evening. Please drop by again soon.”

“It would be our pleasure.” Jack bowed over Lily's hand, giving it a gallant kiss. Ianto surprised them both by leaning in and placing a warm kiss on the old woman's soft cheek.

As they stepped through the gate, closing it carefully behind them, Ianto reached over and took Jack's hand in his.

“Bees are nice,” Jack said cryptically.

Ianto gave his hand a squeeze. “I knew I liked you for a reason.”