Even though Jack was immortal and didn’t require as much sleep as most people, he wasn’t exactly what you’d call a morning person. Every day, Ianto faced the problem of how to prise a reluctant Jack from their bed when Jack was making a concerted effort to keep his lover in bed with him, with the intention of starting something far more enjoyable than another workday. At times like that, Ianto began to wonder if Jack’s hands had somehow multiplied overnight. They always seemed to be everywhere at once.
Persuading Jack that it was time to get up became even more difficult in cold weather; having been born on a desert planet, he was more at home in the sunshine than the chill of a Welsh winter, meaning that leaving his comfortably warm and cosy spot beneath the duvet to brave the elements was even less appealing to him than usual. Threatening to just leave him there was a bad idea, because that would be playing right into his hands.
“Jack, you have to get up!” All ready for work, with his coat on, Ianto tugged at the duvet, but Jack had it in a death grip.
“You have a phone conference with the PM at ten.”
“Don’t wanna, he’s annoying, keeps trying to tell me how to run Torchwood. I don’t tell him how to run the country!”
“Actually, you do, not that he listens. That’s beside the point. You can’t stay here all day.”
“Um… I’d be lonely?”
Jack flipped up the edge of the duvet invitingly. “You could stay too.”
Tempting, but… “Can’t, I have Myf and the other residents to feed, plus a pile of filing, and several urgent repair jobs to see to.”
“Your loss.” Jack vanished back under the duvet, and then his head suddenly poked out again. “Are you wearing a woolly hat?” He peered up at Ianto in the dimness of the bedroom. Even though the curtains were open, it wasn’t light enough outside yet to see clearly. “You are! And are those mittens?” Jack stifled a snigger.
“Don’t laugh, these were a present from Mica Christmas before last, and I’m only wearing them now because thanks to you I’m missing a glove. That’s another reason for me to get going this morning; I have to go shopping for new gloves.”
“Woolly hat, mittens, overcoat, scarf… Looks like you’re preparing for an Arctic trek. I’m guessing it’s cold out.”
“It snowed overnight.”
“Yep, there’s several inches over everything.” For a moment, Ianto thought the prospect of snow might entice Jack from his duvet cocoon; he loved fresh snow especially, but apparently it wasn’t enough of a temptation today and he quickly snuggled down again.
“It’ll still be there later. I’m staying here, where it’s nice and warm.”
There was only one thing for it. “Jack, so help me, if you don’t get up right now, I’m turning off the heat and opening all the windows. Then we’ll see how long you stay warm and cosy!”
“Try me!” Ianto folded his arms over his chest and treated Jack to his frostiest glare. The effect was slightly undermined by his woolly hat, but not enough to be rendered ineffective. Jack could still tell he meant business.
“Meanie.” Reluctantly, Jack emerged, snatched the robe Ianto held out for him, and pulled it on as he scuttled towards the bathroom for a hot shower.
“And don’t take all day, otherwise your coffee will go cold!”
“What about breakfast?”
“You missed it because you wouldn’t get out of bed, so you’ll have to grab something on the way to the Hub.”
There was no reply from the bathroom, but there was a certain quality to Jack’s silence; Ianto could clearly hear him pouting.
Ten minutes later, Jack was showered, shaved, dressed, and frowning as he downed lukewarm coffee. “It’s barely warm!”
“It’s your own fault; I did warn you. Now grab your coat and let’s go.”
“Don’t I get a hat and mittens?”
“You have your own gloves, and I thought you didn’t like wearing hats because they make your hair go flat.”
“You have a hat.” The pout was back.
“Fine, you can borrow one of mine.” Ianto led Jack back into the bedroom and rummaged in a drawer, pulling out a plain grey stocking cap. “Here.”
Jack shook his head. “Don’t want boring grey, I want that one,” he said, pointing to a blue one with earflaps. It was decorated with snowmen motifs and had a massive blue and white pompom on the top.
“Seriously?” The only reason Ianto even owned such a monstrosity was because an elderly neighbour had knitted it for him the previous winter as a thank you for doing her shopping during a spell of bad weather. “Fine, knock yourself out.” He handed the hat over and Jack gleefully tugged it on.
“How do I look?”
“Your Coat will probably disown you for crimes against fashion. Come on, we’re already running late thanks to you, and we’ll be even later if we don’t hurry.” With Jack trailing behind him, Ianto left the flat and headed downstairs.
Exiting the old house, Ianto looked out across the snow-covered parking area and wished they’d used the SUV last night instead of his Audi; it would have handled the conditions better. As it was, his car was little more than a mound of snow. With a sigh, he stepped back inside the foyer and grabbed a couple of shovels out of the communal utility closet before trudging out again and down the three steps to the tarmac, hidden under a good four inches of pristine snow. Well, it had been pristine when he’d first seen it; now it was marred by Jack’s footprints, and there was an almost bare path where the overgrown five-year-old was busy rolling a big ball of snow.
“Jack, we don’t have time for making snowmen! Help me clear the snow from around the car!”
“I am!” Jack called back. “Doing it this way is more fun than shovelling.”
“Only for the person wearing leather gloves. My mittens would be soaked inside a minute,” Ianto grumbled.
“Fine. You do it your way, and I’ll do it mine.” Jack started to gather snow off the car for his snowman’s head.
Rolling his eyes heavenward, Ianto got on with shovelling, soon working up a sweat, and by the time they’d cleared enough snow and climbed into the car, they were both so hot they’d shed their hats and scarves, and had their coats hanging open.
“That was fun!” Jack grinned as Ianto backed out of his parking space, carefully manoeuvring around the two stumpy snowmen Jack had built.
“And you didn’t want to get up this morning,” Ianto teased. “Think what you would’ve missed out on if you’d stayed in bed.”
The drive into central Cardiff was necessarily slow because of the weather, but they made it without any mishaps, pulling into the supermarket car park so Ianto could nip to a nearby shop and buy some new gloves. While he was doing that, Jack intended to go in search of something for breakfast from a small café down the street that did takeout.
Walking across the tarmac together, even with the snow packed down solid by car tyres, was fine, but the moment Ianto stepped onto the pavement he skidded, sliding for several feet before he could grab a signpost and stop himself.
The newly laid paving slabs, scraped clear of snow by the shopkeepers but not salted, were treacherous, coated with a thin film of ice and too smooth for safety. No wonder pedestrians were keeping to the road where their feet, in a colourful array of winter footwear, could get a better grip. Jack’s boots, with their heavily ridged soles, seemed to be providing better purchase than Ianto’s fur-lined gumboots, which were warm and waterproof but otherwise poorly designed for such slippery conditions.
“Need a hand?” Jack asked, smiling broadly at Ianto’s plight, stuck halfway to the shop he wanted but unable to leave the support of his friendly signpost for fear of slipping and ending up flat on his back. “You’d be better off with boots like mine. But fear not, fair Ianto in distress! Your hero will save you!” He stepped boldly onto the ice-sheened slabs, took two long strides, then his feet shot out from underneath him and he sat down hard on the cold, damp concrete. “Ow!”
“Very heroic, I’m sure,” Ianto smirked, amused. “What was that you were saying about your boots?”
Jack levered himself precariously back to his feet, rubbing at his tender behind. “Must be a patch of black ice just there.”
“There’s black ice everywhere, Jack.”
“Don’t care,” Jack decided stubbornly. “It’s not going to stop me rescuing you.” Walking more carefully, Jack approached Ianto and looped an arm around his waist. Ianto released the signpost and gripped Jack instead; he was a lot nicer and warmer to hug than freezing cold metal.
Together, slipping and sliding, they crossed the pavement and staggered gratefully into the shop.
“Are you alright?” the girl behind the counter asked.
“Still in one piece,” Ianto assured her, disentangling himself from Jack, “but you might want to do something about the ice out there before someone gets hurt.”
“The manager just went across the road to get some salt. She should be back soon. Everybody’s been caught a bit unprepared by the snow; the forecast was for a light sprinkling, not several inches. Can I help you at all?”
“I just need some new gloves.”
“Gloves are down that end.” The girl pointed helpfully down the shop, and cramming his mittens in his pocket, Ianto set off down the aisle between racks of clothes. Jack remained behind, wandering over to look at a display of winter boots, examining the soles of one pair after another.
As Ianto returned with four pairs of gloves, so he could keep some at the Hub and some at home, Jack called him over, holding up a pair of black boots. “Try these on, they should grip better than yours.”
Ianto took one of the boots and looked it over. They were well made, with even better soles than Jack’s boots had, but they were quite expensive. “Nice, but a bit pricey.”
“Doesn’t matter; you won’t be paying for them anyway.”
“Call them an early Christmas present if that makes you feel better. Now, see if they fit. If we have to go out at all today, I’d rather not have to worry about you falling and hurting yourself without me there to take care of you.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “We’re already late for work.”
“So we’ll be a bit later. It’s not as if the boss is going to yell at you.”
“That’s true. If he does, he’ll be drinking decaf all day.”
“Perish the thought!” Jack grinned. “You have my permission to be late, provided you try the boots.”
“Well, when you put it that way…” Ianto sat and pulled off his gumboots, replacing them with the pair Jack had picked out. They were a little too big, but as Jack explained, he’d need the extra room for a pair of thick socks to provide additional insulation.
“Don’t want your toes getting cold.”
By the time they ventured back out into the cold, Ianto was wearing his new boots and socks, and Jack was carrying a bag containing more thick thermal socks for both of them, and Ianto’s new gloves. This time, they walked carefully for safety’s sake and made it back to the car without slipping. Ianto’s new boots definitely made a difference.
He glanced at Jack as they fastened their seat belts. “What about your breakfast?”
“Don’t worry about that, I’ll have some toast when we get to the Hub, and we can order something hot for lunch,” Jack decided. “It’s almost nine and I want time to fortify myself with coffee before I have to talk to the PM. I think I’m going to need it.”
“More than likely.” Ianto fired up the engine and put the car in gear, wondering how the rest of the team were coping with the unexpectedly snowy weather.