It’s Jack’s birthday today and in my book that deserves a bit of Jack and Gareth. Last we heard in House Hunt, Jack spent his birthday away from everyone who’d come to matter to him, pretending to be a drug dealer’s enforcer.
What we didn’t get to see in the story was how Gareth and the boys spent Jack’s birthday. Let’s rectify this, shall we?
A version of this Jack and Gareth ficlet was first posted on The Novel Approach website as part of a longer article for the House Hunt Blog Tour.
Celebrating Anyway – A Jack and Gareth Ficlet
“Why are you cooking?” Daniel stood in the kitchen door and stared in consternation. Gareth had six pots on the go at once and the oven on to boot. It was August, the middle of the school holidays, and yet… Gareth’s kitchen smelled like Christmas. Daniel remembered the scents of cinnamon and spice with a hint of sour fruit. Gareth was making venison pies. “Why are you cooking?” he asked again.
Gareth smiled a little. “Because I want today to be perfect.” He reached for the glass of red wine sitting on the counter and took a sip. “Today is special.”
“You got a new boyfriend?” Daniel asked, suspicious.
“Yes, I heard. But what I heard made no sense. Where did that come from?”
“Daniel. Be serious.”
“Then tell me what this is about?”
Anger rocked through Daniel. He wanted to yell, but he held back. Get your facts first, he heard Jack’s voice remind him. There’s always time for yelling afterward.
He took a deep breath and wished that Nico wasn’t upstairs practicing with the lock Raf had given them. He didn’t like to be disturbed when he did that, just like Daniel hated interruptions when he was experimenting in the kitchen. Daniel understood that, but it meant that he had to do this alone. He had to find words to explain why it hurt to see Gareth in the kitchen, busy and content, making… making…
“That’s Jack’s dish you’re cooking,” he began, feeling his way. “The pie with the gravy and the cherries in. You cook that for Jack and Jack isn’t here. You’ve not said that he’s coming back today, either.” Deep breath. “So… who are you cooking for?”
Gareth’s frown dissolved into a wide smile. A real one that curved his lips and lit his eyes. Then Gareth said the magic words. “I’m cooking for the three of us. I’m making all Jack’s favorites, because today is Jack’s birthday. I know he can’t be here, I know we can’t even call him and tell him we’re thinking of him, but we should celebrate anyway.”
The lump in Daniel’s throat was so large, it left no room to speak. It barely left room to breathe. And as if he could tell, Gareth held out his arms and wrapped Daniel in a hug.
“I miss him too,” he said, his hands warm and soothing on Daniel’s back. “I don’t talk much about it, but what Jack does out there is dangerous. I’d rather he was careful and took his time than rush and get hurt. He’ll be back when he’s done.”
Daniel nodded, face buried against Gareth’s chest. He breathed the smells of cooking food and the scent of Gareth’s spicy cologne. He breathed, slow and deep, until he had himself under control and then he looked up.
“Can we have candles like we did for my birthday? And blow them out and make a wish?”
“Of course. What would you wish for?”
Daniel thought that that was obvious. “That he comes home.”