Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, Gwen.
Word Count: 2150
Summary: Arriving back at the Hub after performing his heroic rescue, Ianto finds he has some explaining to do.
Written For: Challenge 291: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, using Challenge 67: Weather. Also fits 176: Drive, and 94: Footwear.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A/N: Also for Alaskabound, who wanted a sequel to my fic ‘Heroic Rescue’ with the team’s reactions.
Despite the heater going full blast in the SUV, Ianto’s drive back to the Hub was far from pleasant. He was still soaked to the skin from his swim in the Taff, the price he paid for carrying out the daring and heroic rescue of one small dog, and the warm air wasn’t really penetrating the sodden fabric clinging to his body. He’d dried his feet as best he could with his socks before putting his shoes back on, but damp, bare feet in leather shoes wasn’t a pleasant sensation. Couldn’t be helped though; driving barefoot would have been worse, and because of the weather, the towels he usually kept in the SUVs boot had all been used by the last people to venture out, and presumably put for washing. He should have thought to check and replace them before setting out, but he’d been in a hurry, wanting to handle the Rift retrieval while it wasn’t actually raining.
He’d known the dry spell wouldn’t last for long. He’d watched the clouds building up, helped along be a rising wind, as he’d made his way back along the cycle path to where he’d parked, accompanied by the cyclists who’d fished him and the dog out of the river, and the grateful dog owner, carrying her pet tucked warmly inside her coat.
‘Lucky dog,’ Ianto thought. At least it had been able to shake off most of the water before being given a good rubdown by one of the cyclists while all Ianto had been able to do was stand there and drip.
Unsurprisingly, the rain had started again by the time he reached the SUV although he’d already been so wet it hadn’t made much difference to him, and by now it was coming down in sheets. He drove slowly, staring out through the windscreen as the wipers swept back and forth valiantly trying to keep the glass clear enough for him to see through.
The fresh downpour would be doing nothing to help conditions in and around Cardiff, only adding to the existing floods, and Ianto could only hope there wouldn’t be any more dogs or people falling into any of the local bodies of water, particularly the rivers. He didn’t want to think of lives being lost in these treacherous conditions, but he knew only too well how easily that could happen. The Taff had been running fast enough when he’d been trying to make it ashore with his burden, sweeping him a good half-mile downstream, and he was a strong swimmer, not to mention immortal. Plus he’d had assistance getting out. Who knew how much further he might have been carried if not for the people who’d helped him? He wished he’d asked them their names; he’d have to track them down later so he could thank them properly.
Trying to work out how best to go about that at least helped take his mind off his discomfort, although nothing could quite distract him from the deeply unpleasant squelching beneath him every time he shifted in the driver’s seat. Water drained downwards, it was inevitable, the natural result of gravity, so the wettest part of his body was now his arse, since when the water reached the plastic trash bag he’d covered the seat with, there was nowhere else for it to go and it pooled there. No wonder babies cried when they needed changing; he could sympathise wholeheartedly, there was nothing he wanted more than to get dried and changed himself.
It was a relief to finally pull into the garage beneath the Millennium Centre, out of the deluge, and from there into the Hub’s underground garage. As soon as the engine was shut off he slid gratefully out of the SUV, shuddering at the sensation of river water continuing its descent, down his legs and into his shoes. Looked like they’d be ruined despite him having removed them before jumping in the river. He sat back down for a moment and tugged them off, pouring the water that had already collected in them onto the concrete floor, where it trickled towards a drain.
“Ugh!” He pulled a disgusted face as he stood up again, shoes in one hand, and tried to tug the seat of his trousers away from his rear; his underwear was not only bunched up, but sticking clammily to his skin, and he could scarcely wait to get out of his wet clothes.
Alerted by the sensors that let him know when a vehicle entered the garage, Jack appeared in the doorway, smiling a greeting. His expression quickly changed when he saw the state his lover was in.
“What on earth happened to you? I know it’s raining again, I was just up checking the sandbags outside the tourist office to make sure they were still keeping the water out, but you look more like you’ve been swimming!”
“I have.” Ianto’s tone of voice was the only thing about him that was dry.
“In your clothes? That doesn’t seem wise. If you had to swim why didn’t you take them off first?”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “There wasn’t time, and unlike you, I don’t enjoy flashing my bits at everybody. Besides, it’s not exactly warm out there in that wind, and the water’s even colder,” he grumbled. “You wouldn’t like to fetch me a towel, would you? I want to get out of these wet things before I start to shrink, if I haven’t already.”
“Wouldn’t a hot shower be better than just drying off?”
“Yes, and I intend to take one as soon as possible, but if you think I’m walking through the Hub like this, leaving a trail of water I’ll have to clear up afterwards, you’ve got another think coming. I’ll throw my clothes in a bag and take them down to the locker room with me, shove them in the drier while I shower.” The alien clothes dryer was one of the more useful pieces of equipment the Rift had gifted them with.
Jack still hadn’t moved, standing there staring avidly as Ianto began to strip out of his soaking wet suit, trousers first.
“Weren’t you getting something for me?” Ianto asked in exasperation.
“Towel, Jack; and you can bring my bathrobe from your quarters while you’re at it.”
“You will be if I have to stand around here in the cold, naked and dripping. Do the words ‘cheap instant decaf’ ring a bell?”
“Okay, I’m going!” Jack raised his hands in surrender and backed away, but he didn’t stop watching Ianto strip until he was through the door into the main Hub.
Ianto gratefully shed his boxers and wrung the water out of them over one of the drains in the floor. Had to have been a good half a pint! Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration but it was still a lot. He gave his shirt the same treatment, not caring at this point if he ruined it; he had plenty of other shirts and this one was nothing special. It was pointless wearing anything too nice in the current conditions since getting wet was practically inevitable. His suit was another matter of course, perhaps he should have switched to jeans until the weather improved, but he did his best to carefully squeeze water from it before dumping it in the bag that had been covering the seat. It had kept the upholstery mostly dry, although the driver’s seat foot-well was awash. That was something else he’d need to deal with later; a General Support Officer’s work was never done.
Jack returned just then, draping Ianto’s bathrobe over the open car door and using the towel he’d brought with him to give his lover a brisk and welcome rubdown. If his hands wandered from their task a bit, Ianto chose not to say anything; there was nothing like a bit of friendly groping to get the blood pumping.
“Okay, let’s get you down to the showers. Perhaps on the way you can fill me in on why you decided to go swimming in this weather.” Jack helped Ianto into his bathrobe and scooped up the bag containing his wet clothes.
“Fine, I have a feeling you’d find out eventually anyway.”
Ianto padded towards the doorway, his bare feet slapping on the gritty concrete, deciding it didn’t matter if they got dirty; he’d be in the shower soon enough.
“Was it whatever you went to retrieve?” Jack asked. “Did it land in the water?”
“No, that’s fine, it’s in the boot; just a harmless bit of space junk. I’ll get it later.”
“So you just decided to see how deep the floodwaters were getting?” Jack guessed. “There are easier ways of doing that than jumping in.” He trailed behind Ianto as the Welshman stalked through the Hub, drawing the avid attention of the rest of the team. Ianto winced; he’d forgotten they’d still be there.
“Oi, you forget your umbrella or something?” Owen called out, catching sight of him.
“Ianto!” Gwen gasped. “Are you alright? You look…”
“Bedraggled?” Ianto raised an eyebrow.
“Well, I didn’t like to say so, pet, but yes.”
“He looked a lot worse before I dried him off a bit,” Jack said helpfully. “Seems the lack of rain didn’t suit him so he went swimming.”
“I know the coordinates of the Rift spike weren’t far from the river,” Tosh said, looking worried, “but I didn’t think the flooding had spread that much.”
Ianto sighed and stopped walking; looked like he’d have to fill everyone in before he got his shower, otherwise they’d follow him down to the locker room and he’d get no peace at all. Might as well confess now and get it over with.
“It hasn’t,” he told Tosh, “but I thought while I was there I should take a quick look, see how bad it was in case any of us had to go down by the Taff.”
“What happened?” Owen was grinning. “You fall in?”
“No. I jumped in.”
“What? Seriously?” That was Jack. “What did you do that for? You might’ve drowned!”
“I’m immortal, Jack; if I had it wouldn’t have been permanent.”
“I know, but Ianto… drowning’s not a pleasant way to go. I should know.”
“I don’t imagine it would be, but I’m fine; I didn’t drown.”
“But why would you jump in?” Gwen was baffled. “It’s a bit daft, isn’t it?”
“There had to be a good reason.” Tosh smiled up at her friend expectantly. “Right, Ianto?”
“I thought so.” Ianto looked around at his four teammates, impatiently waiting for an answer. “I was rescuing a dog, alright?” he huffed. “It fell in and the speed the river was running, the poor thing would’ve been swept out to sea if it didn’t drown first. The owner was very grateful.”
“You saved a life?” Jack beamed, hugging Ianto. “Well done! You’re a hero!”
“It was a dog, Jack. It’s not like he saved a human,” Owen snarked.
“Dogs are people too,” Jack said firmly.
“Well I think you were very brave,” Tosh said. “Poor dog; it must have been terrified! It’s lucky you were there.”
Gwen nodded. “If Ianto hadn’t jumped in after it someone else might have tried to rescue it and they might have drowned. Because of him, nobody had to risk their life.”
Ianto decided that was a compliment of sorts.
“Right, is it okay with everybody if I go and have a shower now? I’m half frozen and standing here on the concrete isn’t helping.” He glanced meaningfully down at his bare feet.
“Don’t the rest of you all have work to do?” Jack added. “Tosh, can you fetch what Ianto brought back? It’s still in the boot, just space junk from the sound of it.”
Tosh nodded and squeezed Ianto’s hand before scurrying away.
“Suppose I’d better check you over after you’ve showered,” Owen said, not sounding too happy about that. “Just because you’re like Jack now doesn’t mean taking a dip in these temperatures is a good idea, especially not in a river. God knows what might be in the water, it’s probably a soup of all kinds of pollutants, not to mention teeming with bacteria and parasites.”
“What a cheering thought; you’d such a ray of sunshine,” Ianto grumbled sourly as he stalked away towards the showers with as much dignity as he could muster.
Jack hustled after him once more. “You’ll need help to wash your back and other inaccessible places, right?” he asked hopefully. “I mean, it’ll be best to do a really thorough job, just in case Owen’s right about the river water.”
Unseen by his lover, Ianto smirked to himself. “Well, if you must.” There were some perks to getting soaking wet, apparently, and in Ianto’s expert opinion, a nice hot shower with Jack was right at the top of the list.