Jack looked gloomily at the array of takeaway menus spread across his desk. “Don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit tired of takeout. The Rift predictor says it’ll be a quiet night, so how about we go back to your place and I’ll cook us up something for dinner? There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal.”
Ianto eyed his lover dubiously. “You can cook?”
“Of course I can, what do you take me for? I’ve been around the universe a few times and here on earth for well over a hundred years; if I hadn’t learned to cook I would have starved long ago. I’m not saying I’m a gourmet chef or anything, but I can follow a recipe and whip up a decent meal. The only reason I don’t cook here is because the Hub doesn’t have a proper kitchen. Microwaving a ready meal doesn’t count.”
“Okay then.” Ianto shrugged. “We can pick up ingredients on the way. What are we having?”
“How about cauliflower cheese?”
“Still trying to get me to eat more vegetables, I see.”
“Vegetables are delicious and nutritious!”
“So you keep telling me. I might believe you if I ever saw you eating them yourself.”
“I eat vegetables!”
“Spaghetti is not a vegetable!”
“One tiny mistake and you won’t let me forget it!” Jack grumbled.
“You thought it grew on bushes!”
“I saw a picture in the paper years ago!”
“It was an April Fool’s Day joke, Jack!”
“Well yeah, I know that now!” Jack slipped into his coat, which Ianto was holding for him, and led the way to the garage. “So, cauliflower cheese, are we agreed?”
“Only if we can have some meat with it. A dinner isn’t a dinner without some kind of meat.”
“Fine, we’ll pick up some of that smoked ham you like, that’ll go well.”
“Sounds good to me.”
They stopped at Asda to pick up everything Jack would need to make their evening meal, grabbing some other bits and pieces Ianto was getting short of while they were there, then headed over to Ianto’s flat.
Carrying the shopping into the kitchen, Ianto popped a few things in the fridge and freezer while Jack hung up their coats and took off his boots.
“Why don’t you grab a shower and change into something more comfortable while I get dinner started? It won’t take long to cook.” Jack started sorting out the necessary ingredients.
“Sure you don’t want me to help?
“I think I can manage; it’s not like I’ve never done this before.”
“Okay, I’ll leave you to it then. Casserole dishes are in the cupboard to your left.”
Ianto disappeared into his bedroom to get out of his suit while Jack found a suitable casserole dish for the cauliflower cheese and turned the oven on to heat. After washing his hands, he grated the cheese, popping it back in the fridge out of the way while he prepared the cauliflower and put it into a saucepan to cook.
Jack was stirring the sauce on the stovetop, waiting for it to thicken, when Ianto came back from his shower, damp-haired, barefoot, bare-chested, jeans hanging low on his hips as he dug in the tumble drier for a clean t-shirt. It was a deliciously distracting sight and Jack was so busy staring that he nearly boiled the sauce over. He grabbed it off the hotplate just in time, pouring it over the cauliflower sitting waiting in its dish, then sliding the dish into the heated oven and setting the timer.
After filling the saucepan with water and setting it aside to soak, because Ianto would probably kill him if he didn’t, Jack sneaked over to his lover, who was bent over again as he emptied the rest of the clothes from the drier. Running his hand over Ianto’s taut denim-clad posterior, he murmured, “Have I ever told you how good you look in jeans?”
“Only every time I wear them,” Ianto smirked, glancing back over his shoulder at Jack as he scooped the last items into the laundry basket.
“It bears repeating.”
Ianto straightened up, turning to face Jack who was crowding him up against the washing machine. He raised an amused eyebrow. “Do tell.”
“Although to be honest, you look good in anything, or in nothing at all.”
“Well, you would know. How long before dinner’s ready?”
“About twenty minutes.” Jack grinned in anticipation.
“Good.” Ianto leant in and kissed Jack lightly on the lips. “I should have just enough time to fold this lot and put it away.”
Jack blinked. “What? You want to put the laundry away now?”
“No time like the present. It’ll leave me free for other things after dinner.”
“Well, when you put it that way…”
“Anyway, you haven’t showered and changed yet.”
That was true, Jack was still in his work clothes; he kept a few things at Ianto’s for evenings like this. Leaving Ianto folding clothes, Jack trudged off to the bathroom to freshen up.
By the time Jack came back from his shower, Ianto had got out plates and cutlery and was sharing out the ham he’d bought from the deli counter. The timer was counting down the last couple of minutes so Jack grabbed the oven gloves and waited for it to go off, signalling that their meal was ready to eat. He was looking forward to Ianto sampling the fruits of his labours. Okay, so making cauliflower cheese wasn’t exactly rocket science, but still…
The dish was steaming and bubbling as Jack lifted it from the oven and spooned a generous portion onto each plate. They took their dinners into the living room and settled onto the sofa to eat. Jack watched avidly as Ianto took a forkful of cauliflower and ham and popped it into his mouth.
“How is it?”
“Ummm…” Ianto didn’t want to disappoint Jack, but… “It’s a little bland to be honest. I thought it would be cheesier.”
Jack frowned and scooped some cauliflower into his own mouth, chewing. That’s when it dawned on him. “I forgot to add the cheese! It’s still in the fridge!”
Ianto looked at Jack, looked back at his plate, looked at Jack again and burst out laughing. “How’d you manage to do that?”
“It’s your fault; you distracted me! I was making the sauce when you came into the kitchen, looking all damp, half-naked, and freshly showered; how was I supposed to keep my mind on cooking after that?”
Ianto just laughed even harder. “Cauliflower and milk sauce,” he snorted. “Not quite what I was expecting! I suppose we could just sprinkle the cheese over the top or something.”
“I’ll go get it,” Jack mumbled, setting his plate aside and scurrying into the kitchen. So much for proving to Ianto that he was an able cook. He snatched the grated cheese from the fridge and came back to the sofa, wordlessly offering the dish to Ianto.
“Thanks. Next time you cook I’ll try to be less of a distraction.” Ianto sprinkled half the cheese over his dinner and passed the rest back to Jack.
“Next time? You mean you’ll let me cook again?”
“Of course, now that I know you can!”
“But it was a disaster!”
“You missed out one ingredient…”
“The crucial one!”
“I don’t know, you remembered the cauliflower.” He looked at Jack. “Don’t take it so hard. I once cooked a frozen pizza without removing the polystyrene packaging from the bottom. It was completely inedible. And then there was the time I baked a cake but grabbed the curry powder instead of the mixed spice… I had a bad cold at the time, so I didn’t notice until I tried a slice. It was awful, even the birds wouldn’t go near it. Point is we all have cooking disasters. Doesn’t mean we have to give up cooking.” Ianto took another bite of his dinner. “Tastes cheesy now!” he said with a grin.
Jack tried his. “Definitely cheesier.” He smiled sheepishly at Ianto. “I really wanted to impress you. Sorry I messed it up.”
“Don’t be; best laugh I’ve had all week! I bet you’ll never forget to add the cheese again.”
Jack nodded agreement. “Next time I’ll taste the sauce first, just to be sure!”