Ianto Jones knows everything. For instance, he knows that the British Isles are classified as having a temperate maritime climate, mild, with a temperature range from not much below zero in winter to around thirty-two degrees in summer. That’s the theory anyway. The reality is harder to pin down.
It’s all very well to talk about climates, but in Ianto’s opinion, they’re not really an accurate indication of weather. He doesn’t feel that temperatures of minus fifteen degrees count as ‘not much below zero’, they’re more in the realm of Arctic bloody freezing, and yet Britain still gets them at times. He’s beginning to think that Britain’s climate is a myth, a fable, told to people in an attempt to encourage them to believe that weather-wise, this little island is a great place to live.
Winters are supposed to be cool and summers warm, but this is Wales, where rain is the norm and sunny days take people by surprise. Good weather is treated with suspicion by anyone with an ounce of common sense, because it doesn’t last. The moment you break out your beach wear and the sunscreen, the heavens open.
Today is a case in point. He’d awoken to a gloriously sunny April morning, something he hadn’t been expecting since it was what had been forecast. That almost never happened, usually he only watched the weather to see what they wouldn’t be getting the following day, but for once it was one hundred percent accurate. Cloudless blue skies, bright, warm sunshine, a light breeze… Ianto knew better than to trust it, the weather was just trying to lull people into a false sense of security.
“Look at that sky!” Jack gushed as he put the SUV in gear. “Perfect weather for a jaunt into the country!”
There’d been reports of a band of three-legged creatures stealing eggs, and in one case chickens, from some small farms about ten miles outside Cardiff so the team were on their way to investigate, hoping to capture the culprits.
Ianto squinted up at the sky. “It won’t last.” He’d made sure to pack waterproofs, umbrellas, spare socks, gloves, hats, and scarves, as well as a few warm woollens, in the spacious boot, just to be safe. It was always best to be prepared.
Owen snorted. “And I thought I was the pessimist!” He was dressed in jeans and t-shirt, with a long-sleeved shirt to keep the sun off his pale arms. Tosh was wearing a cotton blouse and slacks, while Gwen had opted for jeans, a low-cut top and a denim jacket slung over her shoulder. Even Jack had left his coat off, although Ianto had thoughtfully put it in the car for later. He’d also swapped his suit for jeans and hiking boots, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a jacket, but had a rucksack at his feet in which he’d packed his rain gear and a thick sweater. Unlike the others, he wasn’t going to get caught out.
Arriving in the vicinity of the raids, they left the SUV at the side of the road and set out on foot across the fields, tracking the mysterious tripodal egg thieves. Tosh had her PDA in hand and was guiding them, following traces of an unknown energy through a small copse, across the meadow beyond, and up a hill, heading towards open moors.
By noon, they were several miles from the SUV and clouds were rolling in. The gentle breeze had changed direction, becoming gusty and noticeably cooler. Ianto pulled on his jacket and fastened it.
Owen rubbed his arms. “How much further?”
“Hard to say,” Tosh replied, slipping into the lightweight cardigan she’d been carrying.
They crested a rise and looked down into a shallow valley beyond, where what looked suspiciously like a spacecraft was parked. Or possibly ‘crashed’ might be more accurate. Around it, working busily at repairing the tail fins required for atmospheric flight, were half a dozen creatures that looked like three-legged, frog-faced, brown and beige birds, with short, stubby arms instead of wings and fur rather than feathers. Looked like they’d found who they were looking for.
Jack greeted the aliens with a few well-chosen words in Galactic Standard. “Hey, guys, looks like you could use a hand! What seems to be the problem?”
The aliens replied in the same dialect. “Had some trouble with the directional controls, needed to land to make repairs, but we came in a bit hard. The fins are fixable, but a couple of circuits burned out in the navigation array, that’s a much bigger problem.”
“I should be able to help with that,” Tosh told them brightly, sliding her small rucksack from her shoulders and approaching the aliens. Her own emergency kit was made up of tools and small electrical components. She never knew when she might be called on to fix something.
“Any assistance would be welcome. Much obliged.”
As the conversation went on, Ianto translated for Gwen and Owen’s benefits. Both he and Tosh were adept at languages, unlike their colleagues.
With Torchwood’s help, the repairs were finished in just over an hour. Ianto and Jack helped on the tail fins while Gwen assisted Tosh by passing tools into the space under the control panel that the tech expert had squeezed into. Owen spent the time patching up the crew’s injuries sustained during their rather abrupt landing. It was all handled very efficiently.
When questioned about the purloined eggs and chickens, the aliens admitted responsibility and apologized; they’d needed food supplies while their replicator was out of action, and they’d liked the eggs so much they’d thought to take some chickens home with them in the hopes of breeding them. They offered to repay the farmers for what they’d taken. Jack accepted their payment in the form of several small artefacts his team could make use of; Ianto would make reimbursements to the farmers later in a more practical manner, with money from Torchwood’s account.
All the time they’d been working with their new alien friends, the weather had been deteriorating, the sky growing steadily more overcast and the wind rising. As Tosh stepped out of the spaceship, the first heavy flakes of snow started to fall.
“Shit! What happened to the sunshine?” Owen exclaimed, wrapping his arms around himself and shivering. “It was spring when we started, now it’s more like winter!”
“Told you it wouldn’t last!” Ianto stripped off his jacket, pulling on the warm sweater from his rucksack, followed by a fleece-lined shower proof hooded jacket and gloves. He handed the jacket he’d been wearing to Jack, along with more gloves, hat, and scarf, then checked the satnav on his PDA. “Jack and I will go back for the SUV and bring it as close as we can get, there’s a track over there that should get us within half a mile of this valley.” He pointed off to his left. “Stay in the spaceship until we get back, I’m sure our friends won’t mind extending their hospitality.”
In the suddenly inclement weather, the trek back to the SUV stretched dauntingly out in front of them, but Jack and Ianto set out bravely through the falling snow, walking briskly to help keep themselves warm. They remained silent at first, saving their breath for climbing the steep path out of the valley and negotiating the equally steep hill the other side of the ridge. Finally, when they were more than halfway back to where they’d parked, Jack spoke.
“How did you know it would snow?”
“I didn’t, but this is Wales, the only thing predictable about the weather is the speed with which it changes. It’s always best to be prepared for anything. Oops!” Ianto slipped on the snow-covered grass and Jack grabbed him to keep him upright. “Thanks!”
“You’re welcome.” Letting go of Ianto, Jack pulled the woollen beanie further down over his ears. “I wish I hadn’t left my coat at the Hub.”
“Don’t worry, it’s in the SUV, along with cold weather gear for the others.”
“Ianto Jones, you are a marvel! You really do think of everything.”
Ianto shrugged. “Naturally. It’s my job to keep you lot organised. Come on, nearly there, the SUV’s just across the field on the other side of those trees. We should be back at the ship in another hour or so.”
Holding on to each other, they slipped and slithered their way down a bank into the trees, where they were sheltered from the worst of the wind and snow. Despite Ianto’s forethought in taking extra clothes with him on their earlier hike, they were both looking forward to getting into their vehicle and turning on the heat.
“Please tell me you brought some coffee with you!” A hot drink would be more than welcome.
Ianto looked offended. “Of course I did. I might even let you have some before we go back for the others. They’ve got shelter, so it won’t hurt them to wait a few more minutes.”
Jack smiled. Even though it was still snowing, with the prospect of hot coffee and his cosy coat in the heated SUV, the day was starting to look a lot brighter to him.