Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, Gwen.
Summary: The team are exhausted and badly in need of coffee, but there’s a snag…
Word Count: 992
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, When you really need a coffee, anything that holds liquids will do as a cup,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
“Need coffee,” Owen groaned, staggering into the Hub. He looked like he’d been to Hell and back, and the rest of the team didn’t look any better. The Rift had been running them ragged for days, scattering random objects across the whole of Cardiff. Most of them turned out to be nothing of importance, but a small percentage were the kinds of things it wouldn’t do for innocent civilians to get hold of, so every last one of them had to be located and retrieved. Everyone was exhausted; they were living on coffee, pizza, and brief catnaps when what they really needed was a good night’s sleep, but according to Tosh’s prediction software, they still had a little over ten hours of the current insanity to get through before the Rift would let up and go into one of its inactive phases for a few days.
“Ianto, I hate to ask…” Jack didn’t need anywhere near as much sleep as the others, but even he was flagging. He’d been handling as many of the retrievals as he could by himself in order to let the rest of the team catch a nap here and there, and it was taking its toll on him. Even immortals needed time to recharge.
“I know,” Ianto sighed wearily. “Coffee. We need more caffeine in our bloodstreams; Owen seriously needs to come up with a way to give it to us in an IV while we sleep.” He plodded off towards the kitchenette and opened a cupboard, then another, and then a third… “Slight snag; we don’t have any clean mugs left.” Every mug and cup in the Hub was piled in and around the sink, stained and sticky with coffee residue. Several were already getting a bit furry. Looked like coffee would have to wait until he’d done some washing up, except Ianto didn’t think he’d have the energy for washing dishes without a caffeine infusion first, and the only way he’d get that was if he made coffee. It was way too late at night for any of the coffee shops or restaurants to still be open. He stood there, wavering, trying to force his brain into coming up with a solution but getting precisely nothing.
“Don’t worry about the mugs; just make the damn coffee,” Owen said. “We’ll improvise. There’s some stuff in the medbay we can use. Jack, give me a hand? Can’t expect me to carry everything by myself.”
“Sure, Owen.” Shoulders sagging, Jack slouched after the medic, down the steps into the sunken pit that was his domain.
When he got there, Owen was already on his knees in front of a cupboard, rummaging in its depths, pulling out the glass beakers and flasks he used in his experiments. “Take some of these up to Ianto. Should be enough here for a few rounds of coffee. I’ll bring the rest.”
“Right.” Jack nodded and scooped up as many as he thought he could carry without dropping anything, trudging wearily back up the steps with his burden. “Here, where d’you want ‘em?”
“Table,” Ianto said with his usual economy of words, not even bothering to look in Jack’s direction. Under normal circumstances he didn’t need to concentrate when making coffee, he’d done it so often it was automatic, but then normally he wasn’t practically asleep on his feet.
“Whoa, wait!” Gwen stared at the beakers, a disgusted expression on her face. “We’re expected to drink out of those? I’ve seen the kinds of things Owen cooks up in them, and there’s no way…”
“Relax, Gwen.” Owen set down the last few mismatched items. “They get thoroughly sterilised after every use. I guarantee these here are cleaner than the mugs we usually drink out of.”
“They’d better be! I don’t want to wake up tomorrow bright purple and with six more legs than I’m used to!”
“That would be a normal morning at Torchwood,” Ianto muttered and Tosh, who was standing closest to him and was therefore the only one who heard, had to stifle a giggle behind her hand.
“Pick your ‘cup’ and line up,” Owen said. “Ladies and doctors first.” He grabbed a flask and made for the coffee machine, the other three following him. Jack brought two of the beakers with him, one for himself and the other for Ianto.
“Just be careful you don’t burn yourselves on the glass,” Ianto warned, decanting hot coffee into the various receptacles.
Tosh and Gwen pulled their sleeves down over their hands for protection. Jack’s, Owen’s and Ianto’s sleeves were all too short and inflexible for that, but tea towels made makeshift ‘oven gloves’ for the rest of the team. Carrying their coffees, they slumped onto the sofa and a couple of desk chairs, sipping the industrial strength brew Ianto had concocted and then going back for seconds, needing as much fuel to keep them going as they could manage.
It proved to be a brief respite; they had barely more than an hour to put their feet up and rest before the Rift alert started blaring again. Everyone heaved themselves to their feet, leaving their empty ‘cups’ scattered across the coffee table.
“Here we go again, kids.” Jack smiled sympathetically at his exhausted team. “How much longer, Tosh?”
“Just over eight and a half hours; we can do this.”
“Yes we can,” Jack agreed. “Gear up and move out, Gwen with Owen, Tosh with Ianto, me with… myself. Keep your comms open and be careful out there!”
“We always are,” Ianto said, heading towards the underground garage. Then as an afterthought, he added, “Mostly.”
“Just keep in mind, in a few more hours we get to take three days off to catch up on our beauty sleep.” Jack did his best to buoy his team up. “And after that, I swear I’m going to look into hiring a couple more field agents.” He looked back over his shoulder. “And buy a dishwasher.”