Ianto knows he should be used to this, he lives in Wales after all, but British weather is sneaky and underhanded; somehow, it always contrives to take everyone by surprise, leading to endless complaints. It’s a British thing; no matter what the weather is like, nobody is ever really prepared for it, and they always complain because it’s never the weather they want right at that particular moment. Strange but true. The British are a weird lot in general, and the Welsh are no exception.
Unfortunately, it’s no consolation to Ianto to know that everyone scurrying past him with their heads tucked as far into their collars as possible, or covered with varying degrees of success by newspapers, shopping bags, or jackets, is in the same boat. A handful of people are wearing rain hats or hoods, but there’s only a mere scattering of umbrellas in sight.
He shakes his head at everyone’s foolishness, including his own, scattering drops of water from his hair in the process; you’d think they’d all know better by now. But this is summer, and despite most people’s familiarity with the fickle British weather, there seems to be an underlying belief that carrying an umbrella in summer is just tempting fate. The opposite is probably more likely, Ianto thinks morosely as he trudges along, soaked to the skin. Take your umbrella with you and it won’t rain; leave it at home and you’ll get drenched. It’s like the weather knows. Ianto throws a disgusted glance skywards and a raindrop hits him square in his left eye, making him blink. He curses under his breath. Thanks for nothing!
He sighs again, hunching his shoulders at the chill spreading through his body but resigned to his fate. So much for flaming August. In theory it’s the hottest month of the year, but it would appear the weather didn’t get the memo about that. Typical. Why is he even out here getting… well, not any wetter than he already is, because he doesn’t think that would be possible, but why is he out here getting rained on? Oh yes, Jack. No surprise there. Ianto spares a moment to curse Jack for his brilliant ideas, wondering if some kind of retribution might be in order.
“You know what would be great for lunch?” Jack had said an hour ago. “Some of those filled crusty rolls from that little Deli up near the St. David’s Centre. You know the ones; they bake them on the premises and fill them to order. There’s nothing better than freshly baked bread!”
Fool that he was, Ianto had agreed, and set out on foot to get lunch for everyone, because he’d left his car at home, and Owen and Gwen were out with the SUV. It had stayed dry until he’d reached the shop, and then while he was inside, the heavens had opened.
So, now here he is, traipsing back to the Hub, forging his way through the scurrying crowds with a plastic carrier bag full of their lunch clutched tightly against him, the top twisted shut to keep the rain from getting in. He’d started out running, in the hopes of catching a bus to the Plas, but had just missed it. Faced with a twenty-minute wait for the next one going his way and no bus shelter to take refuge in, he’d decided it would be more sensible to just keep walking. By then his clothes were already sodden from the unexpected deluge, so what did it matter if it kept raining on him all the way back? Hurrying had seemed a bit pointless since there’d just be a greater chance of accidentally bumping into someone. Why do distances always seen so much further in bad weather?
Not that it matters. Bute Crescent and the Plas are just a stone’s throw away now anyhow. It won’t be long before he’s back in the Hub; he just hopes the team appreciate the effort he’s put in on their behalf.
He enters via the Tourist Office, locking up again behind him, drips his way along the secret passage to the lift, rides it down to the main Hub, leaving a puddle of rainwater behind that he’ll have to remember to mop up later, and enters Torchwood’s base of operations through the cogwheel door to the accompaniment of blaring alarms. It’s almost gratifying to see every head turn in his direction and mouths drop open.
“What happened to you?” Owen asks, laughing. “Decide to go for a swim with your clothes on?”
Ianto fixes the medic with a truly withering glare. He likes Owen, considers him a friend, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still an arse at times. Like now, for instance. “It’s raining.”
“What? No way! I mean yeah, it was gettin’ a bit cloudy when me and Gwen were out there a while ago, but the forecast said it would be dry all day!” Owen sounds offended that the weather could have the nerve to disobey the forecast, even though they’re all well aware that weather forecasts are wrong more often than right.
“Huh, I must be mistaken then.” Ianto squelches his way across the concrete and plonks the carrier bag containing everyone’s lunch on the coffee table. “Help yourselves, just don’t eat mine, because if anyone does, they can go all the way to the Deli on foot and without an umbrella to fetch me a replacement. Don’t see why I should be the only one to suffer. I’m going to shower and change into something that isn’t drenched with several gallons of rainwater.” So saying, he heads towards the stairs leading down to the locker room, dripping as he goes. He’s wet, cold, and thoroughly cheesed off with everything, so if there’s no hot water, heads are going to roll.
Passing Jack, Ianto sees his lover glance longingly at the food, and is surprised when instead of rummaging for his eagerly awaited lunch, Jack hurries after him.
“I’m sorry, Ianto. I didn’t know it would rain and you’d get all wet!”
“I know you didn’t; nobody did.” Ianto smiles wryly at Jack. “It’s not your fault. If I’d had any sense, I would’ve taken my brolly with me, but the way the rain’s coming down out there, I’m not convinced it would’ve kept me any dryer.”
“That would be because I’m cold as well as wet.” Ianto plods onwards down the stairs, Jack still beside him. “It didn’t feel so bad while I was on my way back here, walking kept me from getting too chilled, but it’s cooler in here than it is outside.” That’s usually the case in summer, what with the Hub being underground, although in winter with the heating going, the temperature in the main Hub is generally higher than outside. Whoever designed Torchwood Three’s secret underground base knew what they were doing. Right now though, Ianto could do with it being a bit warmer because his wet clothes are leeching away what body heat he has left and his teeth are starting to chatter. Isn’t British summertime glorious?
Down in the locker room, Jack makes a beeline for the nearest shower, turning on the spray to get it warmed and ready for Ianto.
“Strip out of your wet things and get in there while I fetch some towels and stuff.” So saying, he disappears out of the locker room. That means he’ll be fetching the extra fluffy towels from his own personal stash. Ianto almost feels warmer at the very thought of being swathed in the snugly folds of one of Jack’s oversized bath sheets. Shucking out of his clothes as fast as he can, which isn’t easy considering the way they’re clinging to him, he hurries into the shower stall.
Funny how having water pouring over him becomes a pleasure instead of an ordeal when it’s hot water rather than icy rain. Chills race through him, but they’re quickly being chased away by the steaming water, and after a few minutes huddling under the spray, he stops shivering and reaches for the shower gel.
By the time Jack arrives back, arms loaded, Ianto feels more or less thawed out. All he needs now is to get dried and dressed. Standing outside the shower, Jack shakes out one of the massive towels and holds it ready to wrap around Ianto as he steps out of the cubicle. Not content with just wrapping the towel around his lover, Jack adds his arms, hugging his bundled boyfriend close and rubbing briskly in a not terribly successful effort to help get him dry. Ianto isn’t complaining though. Jack is nice and warm, and anyway, he’s earned some pampering.
Exchanging the wet towel for a fresh one, Jack sets about drying Ianto properly, using a smaller towel than the one wrapped around him. As soon as Ianto feels sufficiently dry, he pulls away from Jack’s ministrations. Jack would probably help him dress too, but Ianto decides he can manage that by himself, pulling on underwear, jeans, a t-shirt, and a long-sleeved hoodie from his locker, along with the pair of thick socks Jack offers him. They look a lot cosier than the thin dress socks he was going to put on. He draws the line at wearing Jack’s bunny slippers though, settling for his own trainers instead, saying that walking up all those stairs in footwear with long, floppy ears might be a bit hazardous. He’d turn down the fluffy blanket as well, except he doesn’t want to. It’s nice and cosy, and it smells of Jack.
Something warm is shoved into his hands. It’s a takeaway coffee cup from just across the Plas; Jack must have dashed out in the rain to get it, and Ianto is absurdly touched by the gesture.
“Not as good as you’d make I know,” Jack says, “but you need a hot drink after getting drenched like that, and you shouldn’t have to make it yourself.”
Taking a sip, Ianto finds it’s been heavily laced with whiskey. “Mmmm, not bad at all. Thank you.”
Jack beams at him and Ianto finds himself smiling back. Getting soaked to the skin has its good points, most notably being coddled afterwards. Ianto is an independent man, well able to take care of himself; he wouldn’t be much good as a Torchwood agent if he weren’t, but occasional coddling is no bad thing, as long as it’s not overdone.
“We should get upstairs; lunch is waiting,” Jack finally says.
“Right. Best to have some food to go with my coffee-laced whiskey, so I don’t get tipsy,” he teases.
“I might have overdone the whiskey a bit,” Jack admits, but Ianto shakes his head.
“Not from where I’m standing.” He takes another sip. Even mediocre coffee can be improved with a generous dollop of whiskey. It’s giving him a warm glow inside, and Ianto’s not sure how much of that is from the heat of the coffee and how much is down to the alcohol. On second thoughts, he doesn’t actually care. One more sip and he starts towards the locker-room door, using his free hand to pull the blanket more snugly around him. He wouldn’t want to trip on it, especially not after saying no the slippers due to them being a tripping hazard.
Jack trails behind Ianto as he climbs the stairs, carrying his wet clothes and the used towels to be hung up where they’ll dry off a bit. Ianto knows his suit will have to go to the dry cleaners, but you can’t dry-clean something wet. As for his shoes, they’re so sodden they’ll probably take at least a week to dry out. Maybe he’ll suggest to Jack that they could shove them in the alien dryer that came through the Rift last month as a way of testing whether or not it works. If it does then the device could prove very useful. If it destroys his shoes, they might well be ruined anyway so he won’t be losing much. That can wait though; he wants his food first.
The others have finished eating by the time he and Jack arrive back in the main Hub, although they’re still sitting around the coffee table finishing their own cups of takeaway coffee. Ianto decides he’ll brew up a batch of his best blend for the mid-afternoon break to make amends for them having to put up with something substandard without the benefit of added whiskey to drown the taste. Not right now though.
Flumping onto the sofa, he accepts the plate Jack hands him, unsurprised when Jack sits down beside him so close there’s not a millimetre between them. The girls seem to think Jack’s behaviour is cute, judging by their grins. Owen just groans.
“For fuck’s sake, Jack, he hasn’t come in from an arctic blizzard or something, he just got caught in a summer shower!”
“Have you seen the weather outside? No? Well I did when I nipped out to get the coffee. That’s no summer shower out there; I practically had to wade across the Plas! If we tried to use the invisible lift we’d probably all drown.”
Ianto thinks Jack’s exaggerating a bit, but he doesn’t bother correcting his lover, just gets on with eating his lunch. The crusty rolls really are good. His is stuffed with smoked bacon and cheese, among a bunch of salad-y things. He’s glad he got himself two because he’s ravenous. Beside him, Jack is tucking in to his own lunch; Ianto got him roast beef.
Sighing contentedly, Ianto leans against Jack, relishing the way he’s being pampered. Maybe he should get himself soaked to the skin more often. Then again maybe not; once is more than enough. On the whole, he’d far rather be dry and warm, and if anyone has to go out in that rain again today, it’s not going to be him. In fact, he might just stay right here on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon. He’s more than earned it.