Title: Childhood Friend

Author: badly-knitted

Characters: Ianto, Meriel, Jack.

Rating: G

Spoilers: Nada.

Summary: Having a clear-out at home, Ianto comes across one of his eldest daughter's old toys.

Word Count: 1049

Written For: My own prompt 'Any, any, "Aw! You found Binky!",' at fic_promptly.

Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.

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Ianto was having a grand clear-out of the flat he shared with his husband and children. To be honest, it was long overdue, but between running Torchwood and raising four children, his and Jack's lives were pretty busy, and since their youngest was born two years ago he just hadn't been able to find the time. Now, however, what had once been his home office had, over the past few years, somehow wound up housing all the things they had no designated storage space for, to the point where he could no longer even get through the door.

He'd only started dragging things out because he needed to find the twins' sleeping bags. They were going on a camping trip with the school in a couple of weeks and he hadn't wanted to leave finding such things until the last minute in case they needed to be cleaned or repaired. That should have been done before they were put away last time, but he couldn't remember doing it. Well, better safe than sorry.

The Fluffs were down in their jungle gym, and Jack was out with their three youngest. Knowing what Ianto was planning on doing he'd said he'd take them to the park so they wouldn't get underfoot. Ianto was grateful for his husband's thoughtfulness, although he knew it was at least partly motivated by the fact that Jack enjoyed the play park, especially the swings, as much as the kids did. Still, having the flat more or less to himself for once was wonderful. Peace perfect peace! With any luck he'd be able to wrest some order out of the complete chaos before Jack and their brood arrived home.

Dragging things one at a time out of what he supposed should now be called the junk room, Ianto started sorting it all into three piles; things to keep, things to go, and things he'd have to ask the rest of the family about. He opened the next box and rummaged through it, finding it stuffed with scraps of material; they were from when his eldest daughter used to make clothes for her dolls. The memory brought a slightly wistful smile to his face; that little girl was almost a woman now. He was just about to close the box again when he noticed something. Right at the bottom was something that wasn't a scrap of fabric, something rectangular, squashy, fuzzy, and repaired at the corners. That was another thing he remembered fondly.

"Do you need any help, Taddy?"

Ianto looked up to see Meriel standing in the archway leading from the open plan living room to the back of the flat where the bedrooms were. She'd been at her Saturday job at the library all morning, and he hadn't heard her come in. He smiled up at her. "I could certainly use another pair of hands if you can spare the time. What do you want me to do with all this, keep it or throw it out?"

Meriel looked at the box of scraps then noticed what Ianto had in his hand. "Aw! You found my Binky!"

Ianto laughed, the memories washing over him. "There was a time you loved this old thing almost as much as you loved Nosy. Your dad and I came a poor third! And to think I only bought it in the first place to polish my shoes."

He held out the pink and green velvet shoe-buffer to his daughter and she took it, gently stroking its slightly threadbare surface. It had seen better days, but was still wonderfully soft and soothing to stroke.

"Not that it ever got used for that purpose," Ianto continued, breaking his daughter out of her reverie. "I remember coming home with the shopping that day; you would've been about three at the time. I'd put the bags on the floor while I took my coat and shoes off. You came running up to say hi, saw that poking out of one of the bags, and forgot all about me."

He could picture it like it had happened yesterday; Meriel's delighted squeal, the way she'd grabbed the shoe buffer and hugged it to her like it was a puppy or a kitten, then run off to show her prize to Nosy. It had been love at first sight; there'd been no way he was ever getting it back after that.

"You refused to be parted from it," he chuckled. "It had to go everywhere with you for years."

"I remember. I was so upset when I lost it at the supermarket that time. Dad had to go right back and ask if anyone had handed in a tatty pink and green shoe buffer, and thankfully someone had." She looked at the scruffy object in her hands. "I can't believe you kept it! I thought you must have thrown it out years ago."

"I honestly had no idea what had happened to it," Ianto admitted. "It just disappeared one day. Haven't thought about it in a long time." Comforters of various kinds had come and gone over the years, either outgrown or rendered so tatty as to be beyond repair, but Binky the shoe buffer was the ancestor of them all.

"Can I keep it?" Meriel asked almost shyly.

"Of course you can, sweetheart. It's still yours. What about the rest of this stuff?" Ianto gestured at the box of scraps.

"I'll put it in my room and look through it later. Maybe I can make something from it." Like her Taddy, Meriel was a dab hand with a sewing machine, and she loved making small gifts for her friends and family. Picking up the box, she headed towards her bedroom. "I'll just be a minute, Taddy, and then I'll be back to help you sort out the mess."

"Don't rush on my account."

"Oh, but I have to! Who knows what other forgotten treasures we might find in there?"

Ianto smiled after his daughter; he had a pretty good idea where Binky would be from now on; under Meriel's pillow, where it had spent every night for at least six years. It might not look like much, but to Meriel it was a treasured childhood friend, and Ianto was glad he'd been able to reunite them.

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The End