Characters: Jack, Ianto, Tosh, Owen, Gwen, OCs, mentions Rhys.
Summary: The snowball fight wasn’t even Torchwood’s idea; they just got accidentally caught up in it.
Word Count: 2442 words
Written For: daniforblue’s prompt ‘A snowball fight is getting out of hand,’ at torchwood_fest’s Winter Fest, 2016.
Beta: My lovely friend milady_dragon. Thanks so much!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
It hadn’t even been Torchwood who’d started it. They’d simply been crossing the Plas on their way back to the Hub following the retrieval of an object that had come through the Rift. As it had only been a few streets away, they’d left the SUV in the garage and gone on foot, figuring it would be quicker than battling their way through the traffic on the snow-covered roads. It had been; they’d found the object, something that Jack said was a personal data-storage device from the future, within a few minutes of reaching its point of arrival, since the Rift had caused the snow to melt where it had been dropped. Device secured, they’d set off back the way they’d come with no thought in their heads beyond getting back indoors where it was warm, and enjoying a steaming mug of Ianto’s best coffee.
Halfway across the Plas, with a splat a wayward snowball hit Jack in the ear, dripping bits of melting snow down his neck and inside his collar, making him yelp and frantically try to dig them out with gloved fingers. Ianto had laughed at the horrified expression on his lover’s face, until a second snowball hit him in the chest, mid-stride, almost making him lose his footing on the slippery surface. His arms windmilled wildly, but he managed to remain upright
“Sorry!” a voice yelled, and glancing ahead he saw a teenage girl, bundled up against the cold. “I suck at throwing!”
“No harm done,” Ianto shouted back, watching as the girl picked up another handful of snow and tried to lob it at her friends. It went nowhere near them, she really was as bad at throwing as she said, but despite her poor aim, a volley of snowballs was thrown at her in response. Half of them hit various members of the team.
“Oi!” Owen yelled, scooping up snow himself and flinging the hastily formed ball at his accidental attackers, and before any of them quite knew what was happening, they were in the middle of a free-for-all. Snowballs were flying in every direction, most of them missing their intended targets and hitting someone else entirely, and the fight, pardon the pun, rapidly snowballed.
Passers-by joined in willy nilly, and nobody seemed to know whose side they were on. Perhaps there weren’t sides and it was simply every man, or woman, for themselves. It hardly seemed to matter, judging by the screams of laughter filling the cold air above the Plas.
The snowball fight continued unabated. Despite the freezing temperatures, everybody was warming up rapidly, with the exception of their hands, which grew steadily colder. From time to time, people drifted away from the game, only to be replaced by others who saw what was going on and decided to join in the fun, and for well over an hour, battle raged furiously from one end of the Plas to the other.
Ianto and Jack were hastily retreating from a barrage of snowballs, trying to buy themselves enough time and space to regroup and gather fresh ammunition, when someone suddenly yelled, “Watch out for Jesus!”
Ianto skidded to a halt, surprised to find himself in the middle of the Nativity scene set up in a grotto on the Plas by Cardiff council. With a bit of hasty footwork, he narrowly avoided falling over the crib containing the carved wooden figure of the baby Jesus. Jack wasn’t so lucky; he slipped, grabbed at the nearest object for support, but fell anyway, pulling one of the almost life-sized wooden donkeys down on top of him. From where Ianto was standing, all that was visible of Jack was a familiar pair of boots and the hem of his coat, poking out from beneath the donkey.
“Looks like you’ve managed to make an ass of yourself,” Ianto quipped, trying not to laugh.
“Very amusing! If you’re through having fun at my expense, I could do with a little help here. Please? The snow’s melting and soaking into my pants, and it’s freezing!”
Ianto picked his way cautiously towards where Jack lay, across the slick surface between the wooden figures of Mary and Joseph, around the Wise Men, and past a wooden cow, bending carefully to lift the heavy donkey off Jack’s chest, so his lover could scramble back to his feet.
“Thanks,” Jack sighed, quickly abandoning his attempt at dusting the snow off his coat since it was mostly already melted. “Those things are heavier than they look.”
“I noticed. Probably so they don’t keep blowing over. You know how windy it gets out here.”
“I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve had enough of snowball fights for one day,” Jack said, looking down at his sodden coat and trousers. “What d’you say we call it a day, round up the rest of the team and head inside? It’s getting late anyway.”
It was past three in the afternoon and the sun, what little could be seen of it through the heavy clouds, was already on its way down. Most of the other snowballers had left by now, heading back to their homes to thaw out; there were only a few die-hard warriors left, the rest of the Torchwood team among them.
“Time to go indoors, kids!” Jack bellowed to them, his voice carrying easily through the crisp air, despite the distance. He and Ianto trekked back across the trampled snow to their friends.
Gwen had somehow managed to lose the green bobble hat she’d been wearing; her thick, dark hair was flecked with bits of snow and her face was flushed with exertion. She was grinning even though her skin-tight jeans were soaking wet to halfway up her thighs.
Tosh still had her deep purple stocking cap on, but there was snow all down the back of her matching coat from where she’d slipped and fallen into a snowdrift, and she had Owen’s scarf wrapped around her neck, in place of her own which hadn’t proved warm enough. Her fleece gloves and Gwen’s woollen mittens were drenched; only Owen’s leather gloves still looked like they were providing some protection from the cold and the wet.
“Let’s get inside and into dry clothes before we catch our deaths,” Ianto suggested. “Then I’ll make us all some hot chocolate.”
“Ooh, that sounds lovely!” Gwen rubbed her hands together and stamped her feet, in their trendy boots, against the hard-packed snow that still covered the paving slabs of the Plas. “My feet feel like blocks of ice!”
“Really? I can barely feel mine at all,” Tosh said.
Together they picked their way across the uneven, slippery surface to the steps leading down to Mermaid Quay and the Tourist Office entrance. Jack unlocked the door, punching his code into the keypad on the wall beside it, and led the way inside. They’d barely been aware of the chilly wind before the door closing behind them cut it off, but with it gone they immediately started to feel a little warmer. Ianto pressed the red button behind the desk, and the false wall swung open, letting them through into the rough stone passage beyond and they trooped along it to the lift at the far end, packing themselves in like sardines, and travelling down to the main Hub in silence. As they reached the bottom, the peace and quiet was abruptly shattered by the clamour of the cog door alarms.
“Home at last!” Jack called out dramatically, his voice rising above the raucous noise, and Myfanwy answered with a loud squawk from up in her aerie. She hated cold weather and refused to go anywhere when there was snow or ice outside. No one could blame her; she wasn’t really designed for Cardiff winters.
While Jack and Ianto headed for the cubby-hole beneath Jack’s office, where Torchwood Three’s leader had his own small private bathroom, the other three made straight for the stairs down to the locker room, where they could shower in the abundant hot water provided by the Hub’s furnace, and change into the spare clothes they all kept at the Hub.
Tosh and Owen shed their clothes quickly and dived into the biggest shower stall together. Gwen followed more slowly, mostly due to the problems she had peeling her wet jeans off, and took the smallest, where the steam from the hot water would be more confined and hopefully would warm her up quicker. She rather wished Rhys could have been with them, both out on the Plas joining in the snowball fight, and here in the showers; she felt a bit left out, what with Jack and Ianto no doubt sharing the shower in Jack’s quarters, while Tosh and Owen were together down here. She could hear them talking and laughing together over the sound of the water, and feeling as if she was intruding on their privacy, she started to sing ‘Good King Wenceslas’, the only carol she knew all the verses to. It was a bit late to be singing Christmas Carols really, they were already a week into the New Year, but she didn’t care, and before long she could hear Tosh and Owen joining in. It made her smile; her husband might not be here, but her friends were.
Coming out of their shower stalls, the three friends dried themselves quickly, not wanting to stand around naked for any longer than they had to. The heating was going, but the Hub was enormous, the big rooms could be draughty, and they didn’t want the warmth that had soaked into them in the shower to get away. Pulling on warm clothes and hanging their wet ones to dry, they made their way back up to the main Hub and flopped onto the battered old sofa beneath the Torchwood sign to wait for Ianto to make the promised hot chocolate.
“Probably forgotten all about us,” Owen grumbled. “You know what those two are like once they take their clothes off.”
“Ianto won’t forget,” Tosh defended her best friend.
“He’ll have to fight Jack off first though,” Gwen added with a grin.
Despite what the other three thought, Jack and Ianto weren’t engaging in any extracurricular shower fun; after getting thoroughly warm beneath the spray, they had briskly rubbed each other dry, getting sluggish circulation going. Ianto pulled on t-shirt, jeans, a warm red sweater Jack had knitted for him, and thick woollen socks, before shoving his feet into an old pair of sneakers and climbing the ladder out of the bunker, leaving Jack to finish getting dressed. Making straight for the kitchen, he passed the other three where they sat, still glowing with warmth from their showers.
“That was fast! Thought you an’ Jack would still be ‘showering’,” Owen teased, using finger quotes.
“The promise of hot chocolate was too tempting for him,” Ianto replied with a smirk. “He couldn’t get showered quick enough, especially when I promised him he could have marshmallows in it.”
“Bribery works every time,” Jack said, wandering across to join them and unsuccessfully trying to squeeze onto the end on the sofa.
“Sorry, Jack,” Gwen joked. “No room at the inn.”
“Yeah, you’ll ‘ave to pull up a chair,” Owen added.
Jack pouted, but borrowed the chair from the nearest workstation, Gwen’s. It wasn’t as comfortable as the sagging sofa, but it was better than sitting on the cold concrete. “We need another sofa, or some easy chairs, so there’ll be room for all of us.”
“There are some down in the archives.” Ianto’s voice drifted from the kitchen area, where he was working his magic with hot milk, and real melted chocolate, and the fluffy marshmallows Jack loved. “We can pick something out later.”
Jack brightened. “Ooh, it’ll be like furniture shopping!”
“Don’t get your hopes up. If anything, they’re even older than that sofa, but they’ll do the job for now. Maybe we can get something better once the weather improves.”
The team sat around, waiting impatiently as mouth-watering aromas started to drift out to them. Jack shifted restlessly in his seat. “Isn’t it ready yet?”
“Patience, Jack. You can’t rush perfection,” Ianto replied calmly. “It’ll be ready when it’s ready, and not a moment before.”
When Ianto finally emerged from the kitchen five minutes later, he was carrying a tray bearing five steaming mugs, each one topped with a swirl of whipped cream, a scattering of chocolate chips, and on one, Jack’s familiar blue and white striped mug, a mound of marshmallows. In the centre of the tray was a plate laden with dark chocolate Hobnobs.
“I feel thoroughly spoiled,” Tosh grinned, picking her purple mug off the tray and helping herself to a cookie from the plate.
“Nah, we’ve earned this,” Owen said, reaching for his ‘World’s Best Doctor’ mug and grinning at his fiancée. “We repelled the invading hordes, remember?”
Tosh giggled. “That was the best snowball fight I’ve ever been in!”
“It was fun, wasn’t it?” Gwen agreed. “I just wish Rhys could’ve been there too, but he was at work so I didn’t dare call him. Logistics and scheduling must be a nightmare in this weather.”
“Maybe we could have another snowball fight when he’s not working, Rift permitting. There’s more snow forecast for the weekend,” Ianto reminded them.
“That’s a great idea!” Gwen agreed enthusiastically.
“It’s a date then,” Jack agreed, pulling Ianto down onto his lap with one hand and setting his hot chocolate back on the coffee table, just long enough to grab his third Hobnob and cram it into his mouth whole.
Perching awkwardly on Jack’s knees, Ianto rolled his eyes. “Where are your manners?”
“I’m hungry!” Jack protested through his mouthful.
“One of these days you’ll choke yourself to death on crumbs.”
“Been there, done that.” Jack swallowed his cookie and reached for his mug, taking a big gulp of hot chocolate to wash it down with. “More than once.”
“Of course you have.”
“There are worse ways to go. One advantage of being immortal is not having to worry about things like that.”
“Lucky you,” Ianto said, tone dry as dust. They sat quietly for a while, savouring their drinks and munching biscuits. Finally, Ianto drained his mug and looked around at the others. “Right, who’s for a refill?”
Four other mugs were quickly emptied and plonked onto Ianto’s tray. As he extricated himself from Jack’s grasp and went to fetch the second round, he couldn’t help thinking that the best thing about getting cold was warming up again surrounded by the people you care about the most. If only they could have more days like this.