Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Ianto/Lisa, Rhiannon, Mr and Mrs Jones, Gwen
Things To Be Aware Of: Nothing – sort of fluffy, a little sad, a lot silly.
Word Count: ~1200
Summary: Five times Ianto Jones bought a Christmas tree.
Beta: analineblue <3
Author Notes: Written because I seem to have a Christmas tree obsession. There are worse things in the world. I guess.
Ianto is six years old the first time he’s allowed to go help pick out the family tree. It’s the year that the Jones family officially decides to opt for fake and pre-lit, so it’s an important task; this tree has to last. Rhiannon bounces excitedly in her seat as they all drive to the shop, and her enthusiasm is contagious. Ianto plies her with questions like, “Do reindeer eat carrots?” and “Will the tree be as big as Dad?” She answers all of them, though he’s pretty sure that she makes up the information on the spot.
When they arrive, the center of the store is like a forest. There is even cottony snow on the ground, and Ianto happily plays in it with Rhiannon as their parents stroll around the perimeter. If Ianto tilts his head up, he can see the metal wires that make up the branches, but otherwise they look real. He follows his sister between the trees; she likes the one with snow painted on it, while Ianto prefers the one with differently colored twinkling lights. He stares at it, mesmerized, until he feels a hand on his head.
“There you are,” his mother says. Her eyes are big and round, the way they looked when she caught him playing with the stove a few weeks back. “You both gave me a fright!”
They each apologize quickly (Santa is watching, after all), heads bowed, and then are even good enough to compromise on a big tree with white lights. It towers over Ianto, and he spends almost a week afterwards just looking up at it in awe.
Three weeks after his first Christmas on his own, Ianto buys his second tree. He’s walking through a store on the hunt for a new duvet cover when he comes across a shelf of Christmas rejects. Broken ceramic snowmen, reindeer missing antlers or noses (or, in one case, three legs), an angel with a jagged gash in her head, and other bits and bobs litter the area.
Behind a pile of now-outdated ornaments stands a miniature Christmas tree. A tree made of the ugliest chartreuse tinsel ever known to mankind. Ianto almost can’t stop himself from picking it up. It’s absolutely fascinating, like some artifact of humanity at its worst.
He checks the price and, it being less than £2, decides that it will live with him from now on. He’s always had a soft spot for lonely, unwanted things.
The third time he buys a tree, Lisa is with him. In fact, he isn’t so much actively buying a tree as he is following the tasseled ends of her red-and-gold scarf and handing over his wallet. The scarf was supposed to be a gift for Christmas, but she had been cold one night and so he’d wrapped it around her neck like garland. And then he’d had to go out and get something else so that he’d be able to give her exactly five gifts come Christmas Eve.
They have Ianto’s old tinsel number back at the flat, but Lisa had insisted on “doing things the old way,” which apparently harkens back to the happy golden days of yore when evergreen trees grew in car parks, he supposes.
Lisa stops suddenly, her scarf-tails swishing around her body, and Ianto almost collides into her back. Her gloved hands clasp together gleefully, almost to the beat of “The Little Drummer Boy” that’s blaring out into the cold darkness. She turns to him and grins.
“That one,” she says, so assured and bright. “That’s the tree.”
It looks like every other tree they’ve walked by, big and green and…piney. He stares at it, assessing its general treeness, and comes up with no distinguishing characteristics that might draw her to it. It’s good, of course, solid and without any bare patches. But then so are most of the trees here.
“Why this one?” he asks.
She gives him her best happy grin. “It’s perfect, that’s why.”
He shrugs and pulls out his wallet; if she thinks it’s perfect, who is he to argue? He’s never been much of an arborist himself. Besides, if it makes her smile like that, it’s worth it.
Gwen is in a bit of a tizzy, something about in-laws and Christmas, and Ianto finds himself offering to help her buy a last minute tree.
She’s practically shaking in the passenger seat as soon as she gets in, her legs bouncing.
“Do you want fake or real?” Ianto asks after awhile.
“Real,” she says quickly, and then, “Well, unless the only ones left are sad.” She frowns. “They’re probably all twigs. Maybe fake, then.”
“Lasts longer,” Ianto agrees. “Less mess, too.”
Finally, Gwen relaxes a little against the back of the seat and Ianto breathes a sigh of relief; she was making him nervous. She hums along to the radio, which is funny, because it’s some punk cover of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
“I wonder what the alien equivalent is.”
Ianto parks the car and looks over at her. “Of Christmas trees?”
She shakes her head. “No, of the twelve gifts. Like,” she pauses for a moment, “a weevil in a sentient tree?”
“Ten hoix a-munching?”
“Nine daleks ex-terminatin’?”
“Five active rifts,” Ianto sings, completely stoic, and has to thump Gwen on the back when she chokes on her laughter.
“Maybe we should ask Jack,” she suggests when she can breathe again (though her cheeks are still a bright Christmas red).
She frowns at him.“Why not?”
“Because he’ll take it as a suggestion and I’ll end up with a menagerie in my flat.”
She laughs again. Ianto gets out of the car and opens her door for her. She tucks her arm in his. Ianto thinks that they must look so completely normal and content, walking into the warmth of the shopping center. He’s a bit proud of that, and even more proud when Gwen decides against the garish thing that plays music and opts for a nice tasteful tree instead.
Jack is trailing behind him, not out of boredom, Ianto thinks, but because he has to look at and touch everything. If he didn’t find it ridiculously charming, Ianto’d be annoyed. But at it is, it makes him smile.
Ianto stops to look at each tree. By the fifth, Jack steps directly behind him and puts a hand on Ianto’s arm.
“What exactly are you looking for?”
“The perfect tree.”
“Huh,” Jack says. “They all look the same to me.”
Ianto turns sharply on his heel to face him and then laughs, almost relieved. He can’t stop laughing, the more he thinks about it. He wants to say I love you or Marry me, but those are just platitudes, not promises. Instead, he kisses Jack right there, among the plastic pines.
Jack’s smiling when they pull away and Ianto smiles back.
“What was that for?”Jack asks.
Ianto shrugs, smirks. “Just pick one and let’s get out of here.”
Jack salutes him and grabs the nearest box.