Ianto shivered, tucking his freezing hands into his armpits in an effort to warm them a little. He wasn’t dressed for these conditions; all he had on was his suit, no gloves, no scarf, no warm woolly hat and no overcoat.
Snow swirled around him, obscuring his vision, and he frowned, realising that he had no idea where he was or how he’d got there. The last thing he remembered was being in the archives, putting a newly arrived device in its place on a shelf. Jack had snuck up behind him, and then… What? He didn’t remember, and that was as disturbing as his unexpected change of location was.
“Ianto? Ianto, where are you?”
Jack’s voice was the most welcome sound he’d ever heard, cutting though the silence of the drifting snow like a beacon of hope. If Jack was here too, then maybe together they could figure out what had happened to them and how to get back where they belonged.
“I’m over here!”
“Oh thank goodness! Keep shouting! I can’t see you through the snow!”
After several minutes of shouting back and forth, Ianto finally saw a dark shape looming through the whiteness and hurried towards it, misjudging the distance in the eerie snow-light and colliding with it. The shape gave a surprised ‘oof’ and then familiar arms were wrapping around him, holding him tight as if afraid he might slip away and get lost in the falling snow again.
“There you are!” Cold lips brushed against his own. “Are you okay?”
“Apart from being confused, lost, and half frozen, I’m fine. Where are we? I keep trying to remember what happened but I’m just coming up blank. Last thing I remember, I was down in the archives and…”
“…and I crept up behind you and grabbed you?”
“Exactly! Next thing I know, I’m standing in the middle of a snowstorm freezing my arse off.”
Ianto shivered again and Jack drew back just enough to open his coat, pulling his lover back against his chest and wrapping the warm woollen garment around them both as best he could. Thankfully, being double breasted made it quite roomy.
“A bit, thanks, but we need to find shelter as soon as possible; my feet are like blocks of ice in these shoes.” The snow on the ground was already deep enough to reach mid-calf on both of them.
Jack looked up into the sky at the fat, fluffy flakes falling lazily around them. “Seems to be easing up, I think it might be stopping.”
It was true, the blizzard swirling about them was noticeably less dense than it had been and the wind had dropped. A few minutes later they were able to make out their surroundings. They were standing in a glade among tall, dark trees and there was what looked like a cabin a couple of hundred metres away, not far from the edge of the forest. They wasted no time in hurrying towards it, wanting to get inside before it started snowing again. The sky overhead still looked leaden.
Reaching the door to the small building, Jack knocked and when there was no answer, pushed it open. They stepped inside quickly, shutting the door behind them to keep out the cold and looking around in the dim light through the glazed windows to either side of the entrance.
They were in a room that appeared to take up most of the interior of the building. To their right there was a wide hearth with a fire laid but unlit. An oil lamp stood on the rough-hewn table in front of them and several more hung from hooks on the walls. A big bed laden with quilts and blankets was built into an alcove to one side of the fireplace and comfortable, overstuffed chairs and a sofa were arranged where they would draw most warmth once the fire was lit. To their left was a kitchen area with a stone sink, solidly built wooden cupboards, and an old-fashioned Welsh dresser full of crockery against the far wall. The floor was stone flagged with brightly coloured hand-woven rugs scattered here and there.
Ianto picked up a box of matches that was laying on the table and lit the lamp standing beside them, then carried the lamp over to the fireplace, using a long spill from a pot on the hearth to kindle the fire from the lamp’s flame and light a couple of other lamps, one each end of the mantelpiece. Pretty soon, there was a good blaze going in the hearth and the cabin was beginning to warm up.
“We should get out of our wet things.” Ianto tugged off his sodden shoes and set them on the hearth to dry.
Jack nodded agreement, bringing a couple of the sturdy wooden chairs from the table to hang their clothes on while they dried, and both men shed their outer layers quickly, wrapping themselves in downy quilts from the bed and snuggling on the sofa while they thawed out.
“How d’you think we got here? Wherever here is,” Ianto asked after a few minutes.
“Some sort of teleportation device maybe,” Jack replied. “The more important question is probably ‘How do we get back?’ because if we don’t find a way, we’ll be trapped here.”
That was a sobering thought, but there wasn’t a lot they could do until they were no longer at risk from hypothermia.
A couple of hours later, they pulled on their now warm, dry clothing and explored the surprisingly cosy cabin in more detail. Oddly for such an isolated place, it had indoor plumbing, and the furnishings of the small bathroom included a log-fired boiler to heat water for bathing. There was also a well-stocked larder just off the kitchen. Hungry and still feeling the need for more warmth, they fixed themselves a pot of tea, and hot soup from one of the somewhat anachronistic tins in the larder, doing all the cooking in pots suspended by hooks over the roaring fire. After eating, they washed up at the kitchen sink, using water heated the same way. Outside, it was snowing again and getting darker, late afternoon gradually fading towards evening.
“We’d best wait until morning before we go out there again, and hope it’s stopped snowing by then,” Jack said, peering through the window at the gathering dusk. Another hour or so and it would most likely be full dark.
“At least there’s winter clothing in the closet so we’ll be better dressed for the conditions,” Ianto pointed out. There were also heavy fur coats hanging on hooks by the door, with warm, fur-lined, waterproof boots standing beneath them. They looked like they might be a bit on the large side, but two or three pairs of the thick wool socks from the chest of drawers near the bed should make them fit well enough. Jack slipped one of the coats on to make a brief foray outside to fetch more wood from the woodpile, then they shuttered the windows against the encroaching night. They had a long evening before them; probably the best thing they could do was crawl into bed and keep each other warm until morning.
Ianto went over to the fireplace, preparing to turn out the lamps, when he spotted a little ornament on the mantelpiece that he hadn’t noticed earlier. He moved one of the lamps closer.
“Jack, come and look at this!”
Jack joined him and together they examined Ianto’s find. It looked a lot like a snow globe, minus the snow, but it was what was inside that had caught Ianto’s attention.
“Is it just me, or does that look an awful lot like the archives?” There were rows of shelves visible, each bearing an array of boxes and strange objects.
“It does rather.”
Ianto thought hard. “I seem to remember there being a snow globe on the shelf next to where I was putting the new artefact. When you grabbed me, I think what I was holding might have bumped into it.”
“And then there was a weird feeling, like falling without moving, and we were surrounded by snow.”
“Yes, exactly! Um, so does that mean we’re in the snow globe that’s on the shelf in the archives?” It was a weird and disconcerting thought.
“I don’t know. Maybe. Either that or in the place the globe represents. Maybe that rod thing we found earlier zapped us here.” Jack sighed heavily. “Which could mean we’re stuck here permanently.” His shoulders sagged. “This is my fault. I’m sorry, Ianto. If I hadn’t grabbed you…”
“Forget it. As for us being trapped here… Not necessarily!” Ianto dug in his jacket pocket and pulled out the small, rod-shaped device he’d been shelving earlier. I was slightly longer and fatter than a fountain pen and gleamed silvery black in the light from the fire. “I was still holding it when I arrived. I automatically shoved it in my pocket so I could try to get my hands warm.”
“So if it brought us here, maybe it can take us back…”
“Worth a try. We’d better make sure we’ve got everything we arrived with though. If this works, we don’t want to leave anything behind, such as your coat, because we’re not coming back for it!”
Quickly they put their shoes and outer garments back on, and Ianto turned out the lamps. Hopefully the fire would burn out by itself. It was getting low.
“Grab hold of me,” Ianto instructed, and Jack willingly obeyed, sliding his arms around Ianto’s waist from behind, much like he had in the archives. “Try not to let go this time. Ready?”
Raising his right hand, Ianto jabbed the little wand against the globe sitting on the mantel. A dizzying sensation swept over him and he felt as though he was going down in some kind of high-speed lift, leaving his stomach behind. His vision greyed out and when he blinked it clear again, he was standing, with Jack clinging tightly to him, by the same shelf in the archives that he’d last seen several hours earlier. The tip of the wand was still touching the snow globe and he moved it carefully away.
“Looks like we’re home.” Ianto looked at the device in his hand. “I think we should probably put this in the secure archives though, preferably not in contact with anything.” He felt Jack’s head nodding where his lover’s chin was resting on his shoulder.
“That sounds like a sensible precaution.”
“Think you can see to it without accidentally sending yourself somewhere else?”
“I’ll be very careful.” Jack took the small device from Ianto and together they made their way towards the stairs up to the main Hub. “I wonder if anyone noticed we were missing.”
“Doubt it. They probably just thought we were off somewhere shagging like bunnies.”
“Well, we have been known to do that from time to time.”
“True. Do you think we should tell them what really happened?”
“Why bother? Let them think what they like. They probably wouldn’t believe us anyway.”
“Getting trapped in a snow globe does sound rather far-fetched, doesn’t it?” Laughing, Ianto led the way up the staircase. It was good to be home.
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