Word Count: 2000
Characters: Ianto, Tosh, Jack, Owen, Gwen, Mickey, Andy.
Written For: The Week Two prompt ‘Snow’ at torchwood_fest 2018.
Summary: It’s snowing heavily, but this snow definitely isn’t a natural weather phenomenon…
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Looking up at the falling snow, a resigned expression on his face, Ianto drew his coat more tightly around him and adjusted his scarf. His hat was already pulled well down over his ears, and his gloves were providing some protection for his hands, but he was still cold, which was hardly surprising in the current sub-zero temperatures.
“How much longer, Tosh?” he asked, his voice a bit indistinct thanks to his scarf.
“What did you say?” Sheltered from the falling snow by the makeshift tarpaulin tent Ianto had rigged up for her, Tosh peered in her friend’s direction; he was only dimly visible through the thickly falling flakes.
Ianto shifted his scarf out of the way and repeated his question.
“Hard to say,” Tosh called back, sounding apologetic. “I’m working as fast as I can but I keep having to stop and warm my hands up.” It was fiddly work so Tosh had been forced to give up her warm mittens in favour of a pair of fingerless gloves, which meant when the cold ate deeply enough into her bare fingers she lost all sensation, and if she couldn’t feel she couldn’t grip her tools properly and kept dropping them. The last thing she needed was to lose them in the snow. The little portable heater was struggling to raise the temperature inside Tosh’s shelter, but at least it helped to thaw her fingers enough for her to continue with her task. “Another thirty or forty minutes? Maybe a bit longer.”
It wasn’t the answer Ianto had been hoping for, but there was nothing to be done about that; Torchwood’s tech expert was doing the best she could in very trying conditions. He stamped his feet in his wellies; despite the three pairs of socks he was wearing his toes still felt like blocks of ice. Picking up his shovel, he returned to clearing the snow as best he could, but not even that vigorous physical exercise was making him feel any less cold. Frostbite was starting to become a distinct possibility.
“How’s it going?” Jack asked, appearing through the snow carrying a couple of big buckets, which he set down beside Ianto to be filled.
“It’s not.” Ianto heaped snow into the first bucket. “It’s piling up faster than we can get rid of it. Now I know how all those little figures stuck in snow globes must feel.” He didn’t much like snow at the best of times.
“We should be thankful it’s only in here,” Jack reminded him.
“I know, but still, this isn’t how I’d planned on spending my day.”
“Safe to say this wasn’t in anyone’s plans, but Tosh will figure out how to stop it. She always does.”
Ianto wished he could share Jack’s confidence. He knew his best friend was more than capable of figuring out and repairing any kind of alien technology she was handed, but she didn’t usually have to do so in such freezing conditions. He’d done his best to protect her while she worked but the cold was seriously hampering her efforts.
The clouds hanging low overhead were so heavily laden it was unlikely the snow would stop of its own accord, or at least not anytime soon. Everything depended on Tosh; all the rest of them could do was try to keep her from disappearing under a gigantic snowdrift.
Jack hefted his filled buckets and trudged away, leaving Ianto feeling isolated and alone until Owen appeared out of the gloom, plonking his own pair of buckets down to be filled. After he departed, Gwen appeared, followed by Mickey, Andy, then Jack again, around and around in an endless parade, ferrying the snow away in an effort to keep it from causing serious problems, like burying them all alive.
“Stupid weather generator,” Ianto muttered to himself, pausing in his shovelling to adjust his scarf again. “Stupid Rift.” None of this would be happening if the Rift hadn’t decided to drop its latest gift practically in their collective laps. The indoor snow had almost been funny, for about the first ten minutes, but then Tosh had discovered that the weather device’s controls had short-circuited, no doubt due to its rough landing, and she couldn’t shut it off without repairing the damaged circuits first.
They’d debated whether or not to move it, but decided there was no point; wherever they took it the weather would follow, and at least here Tosh had close to hand all the equipment she might need in order to carry out the repairs, including her computers and plenty of light. Once Ianto had rigged a shelter over her workstation and plugged in the small heater and a lamp she’d set to work, but that had been well over an hour ago.
The rest of the underground base was still at its usual temperature; it was only in the main Hub that the temperature had dropped below freezing, which was fortunate. The team had collected every tarpaulin and sheet of polythene they could find, using them to cover all the Hub’s essential equipment, then they’d set to work clearing away the heavily falling snow, ferrying it down to the locker room, the bathrooms, anywhere there were drains where the snow could safely melt and run away without causing flooding.
Time passed at a snail’s pace, marked for Ianto only by the arrival and departure of his colleagues with their buckets. He envied them a bit, trooping back and forth between the freezing Hub and the warmth of the lower levels. Jack had offered to trade places with him, but Ianto had found a good rhythm with his shovelling, and anyway, he was loath to go anywhere in case Tosh needed his help. So he just kept shovelling, going around and around the workstations, where the snowfall was heaviest, clearing it away only to find it was as deep as ever when he got back to his starting point.
When the snow finally stopped falling, Ianto didn’t notice immediately; at some point he’d slipped into a sort of mindless trance, shovelling on autopilot, tuning out everything but the task at hand. It made it easier to ignore the cold, and the aching in his arms and back. He only became aware that something had changed when he started to feel uncomfortably warm. That, and the fact that for the first time since he’d started shovelling there was noticeably less snow on the ground, made him look up, wincing as he straightened his back.
He blinked at the lack of falling snow, unsure when that had happened, and turned to Tosh. “Is that it? Did you fix it?”
“I… think so,” Tosh said uncertainly, peering out from under the tarp at the rapidly dissipating clouds. “I managed to isolate the power source and disconnect it. I wasn’t sure whether or not that would work, I was worried I might need to physically programme a change in the weather, but…” Setting her tools down, Tosh switched off the lamp and the heater. “I think the snow’s melting.”
“Looks that way.” Ianto stared around himself in wonder hardly daring to believe it was over. Then he frowned. “I really hope the Rift pool won’t flood with all the runoff.”
Tosh shuddered at the thought. “From a blizzard to floods, that would be all we need.”
“Maybe I’d better keep shovelling, clear as much aay as I can before it melts.”
“You did it!” Jack yelled, appearing from the stairs to the locker room. Beaming a smile brighter than sunlight on snow, he slipped and slithered his way across the Hub to scoop Tosh into his arms and swing her around, a move that almost resulted in them ending up in a heap on the floor; only a quick grab from Ianto saved them. Jack barely seemed to notice, squeezing the stuffing out of Tosh. “The brilliant Toshiko Sato saves the day once more!”
“I didn’t do it all by myself,” Tosh insisted modestly when Jack loosened his grip enough that she could draw breath. “The rest of you deserve congratulations too, especially Ianto. If he hadn’t taken charge and organised everyone we might have ended up completely buried, or snowed out of our own base.”
“Very true.” Jack set Tosh down carefully and turned to Ianto, reeling him in by the scarf for a very thorough kiss. “For services above and beyond the call of duty,” he said grandly.
“Daft sod,” Ianto replied affectionately, extricating himself from Jack’s embrace so he could unwind his scarf and unbutton his coat; he was starting to sweat. “I don’t know about the snow, but I think I’m starting to melt.”
Jack helpfully plucked the hat off Ianto’s head for him, using it to fan his lover. “Better?”
“Getting there.” Tugging his gloves off, Ianto shoved them in his pockets and shrugged out of his coat, draping it over the back of a chair.
As the three of them stood by the workstations, grinning at each other and catching their breath, Owen’s voice drifted over to them. “Thank God that’s over!” The rest of the team followed him into the Hub, shedding their coats and hats as things started to return to something approaching normal. Ianto turned to address them.
“Not so fast! We aren’t finished yet; there’s still snow to clear, preferably before it melts and gets into the electrical systems. Don’t want our equipment shorting out. Grab your buckets again, lady and gentlemen; the faster we do this the sooner we can rest.” Ianto picked up his shovel again.
“I’ll get a mop.” Tosh picked her way carefully through the melting snow, heading for the storage closet where Ianto kept the cleaning supplies. Now that she was finished dealing with the weather device it was about time she gave her friends a hand with the cleanup.
Regretfully, Jack headed to the thermostat controls and turned the temperature down enough to slow the thaw; snow was a lot easier to clear away while it was still more solid than liquid. Everyone redoubled their efforts; now the snow was no longer falling it was easier to see where they were going and as Ianto cleared more of the Hub down to the concrete it got easier to walk without slipping, the rough floor providing better traction despite a few slightly icy patches.
Another hour passed as they worked steadily, but at last the floor was mostly clear, patches of it even starting to dry out, and they were able to carefully uncover the computers and other equipment, tipping the remaining snow from the various tarps at the edge of the Rift pool, where it could melt relatively safely. The water level in the pool was deeper than it had been, but not dangerously so; it looked like they’d managed to avoid further disaster.
“Now are we done?” Owen asked, dropping his empty buckets to the floor.
Ianto took a quick look around. “I believe we are. Right, who wants coffee?”
Everyone raised their hand, which wasn’t surprising; after several hours of hard physical labour in unpleasant conditions they all needed a drink. Ordering food would be the next priority.
“I’ll turn the thermostat back up; a bit of warmth will speed up the drying.” Jack strode off towards the controls, set on the wall beside the steps down to the autopsy bay.
“I’m going to dismantle the weather device, just to be safe. We don’t need any more indoor snowstorms.” Tosh turned back to her workstation.
Owen wandered over to the old sofa, threw himself down onto the cushions and immediately leapt to his feet again, the seat of his trousers soaking wet. “Fuck! Didn’t anyone think to cover the bloody sofa?”
Ianto paused on his way to the kitchen, glanced at the soggy sofa and just shrugged. “I knew I’d forgotten something. Ah well, it’ll dry out eventually.” Without another word he continued on his way; the coffee wasn’t going to make itself.