The boy squealed with delight as his father pulled the sheet off the ungainly shape leaning by the front door.
"It's a hoverskater!" He threw his arms around his father – "Thank you, Dad!" – and was off before his father had even finished his "Happy Birthday, son!"
Bursting joyful energy and delighted pride, he careened up and down the street on the toy, darting in and out of the pools of light thrown by the sparse illuminators, dark hair blowing behind him, white teeth bared in a wide grin. The younger boy ran behind him, full of laughter and admiration for his brother, his best friend, his hero.
"Mom, Dad, look!" A daringly narrow turn between some trash compactors, collision easily avoided through razor-sharp reflexes and effortless grace.
Munia smiled and applauded her son, pride and love only slightly tinged by maternal worry. She pulled her husband aside. "Franklin… We can't afford this!"
Franklin smiled. "Yes, we can. You'll never believe what happened, love! When you were at the planetarium with the boys today, three patrons came into the restaurant." Given the way business had been since the troubles started, that alone was almost enough to make it a good day, but her husband was still grinning like he had a beautiful surprise. "Munia, dear, they ordered everything!"
She frowned. "What?"
"Literally everything on the menu – and two of each dessert. The gold cake, the uncerlinoa steak, the Starglance wine – everything. Even bought the goddamn souvenir mugs."
Most patrons couldn't afford more than a bowl of choree stew and the cheap house ale since the blockades started. "Who were they?"
"Never seen them before. Off-worlders, it looked like, but human. One of them sounded like a Boeshane boy, actually, but the other two…" He shrugged. "No idea. Hardly matters, though, does it?"
Munia smiled. "Guess not. How much…?"
Franklin's grin became even wider. "Enough to pay all the outstanding bills, love – energy, the suppliers, even fresh water!"
She opened her mouth to protest. Even three of every item on the menu couldn't have added up to that much.
Before she could say so, Franklin explained, "They left a ridiculous tip. Wouldn't take it back. Said they were celebrating something important and wanted me to share in the joy."
Just then, their younger son ran up to them. "Dad, dad! Can I have a turn on the skater?"
Franklin scooped him up and pressed a kiss to his check. "I don't know, Gray. That's your brother's decision." With a smile, he set him down and let him run off to beg his brother for a turn. He knew his boys and had no doubt what the answer would be.
He put an arm around his wife and watched as their older son put the younger in front of him on the skater and let him hold the joystick, promising to teach him how to ride it properly as soon as the sun came up the next day.
Jack puts the ridiculous red mugs in the cupboard above the sink with a wistful smile. He turns and sees the Doctor leaning in the kitchen doorway.
"All right, lad?"
"Course. Thank you for today." He hopes his smile betrays nothing but gratitude and maybe a bit of nostalgia.
The Doctor raises one shoulder in a shrug. "Just want to know I didn't make it worse. Know there was some pain mixed in there."
Jack takes two steps and cups the Doctor's chin in his hand, pressing a warm, chaste kiss to his lover's lips. "I thank you for that, too."
Strong leather-clad arms wrap around him and he leans in, letting the joy, the memories, the melancholy and the longing wash over him, knowing that he's safe, securely held in the one place he's known in decades where it's okay to be weak.
He feels a second pair of arms wrap around him from behind. A head nestles on his shoulder, waiting till his breathing calms.
"Come to bed, hm?" Rose asks, her voice full of sweet promise. He turns his head to look at her, and his heart speeds up at the twinkle in her eyes. "Still got to give you the second half of your birthday present."
As he allows a small warm hand and a large, cool one to lead him towards the bedroom, Jack thinks that today is the best birthday of his life.
Both of them.