Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen.
Summary: After a Rift retrieval in miserable weather, the whole team needs warming up.
Word Count: 1389
Written For: Week One prompt ‘Cocoa’ at torchwood_fest 2019.
Beta: My lovely friend milady_dragon. Thank you so much!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Retrievals in winter were seldom fun. Ianto supposed they should all be grateful for the lack of snow; at least what they’d been searching for out in the wilds of Cardiff golf course hadn’t been buried under a deep drift. That was the only positive thing to be said about the whole experience though; they’d spent the best part of two hours trudging across the greens in the dark, searching by torchlight in pouring rain and winds gusting up to almost fifty miles per hour. At one point poor Tosh had been blown right off her feet and into a sand trap; Jack had fished her out, dusted her off as best he could, and kept a firm grip on her for the rest of the search to make sure she wouldn’t blow away completely.
At least they hadn’t needed to worry about that on the way back to the SUV. When they’d eventually located what they’d come for, which appeared to be some kind of airlock door, it had taken all five of them to carry it. The manager of the golf course was not going to be pleased when players reported the two-foot deep gouge in the middle of the seventh green, but maybe he could pass it off as a new water feature; the rain was coming down so hard the hole was already more than half full.
They managed to make it back to the SUV without their find being dropped on anyone’s foot, although everyone would probably have bruises all over their legs by morning. The door was unwieldy, difficult to grip, and what with gusts of wind tugging it this way and that on their long trek back to where they’d parked, they’d been bumped repeatedly. There was a chorus of relieved groans as they shoved their burden into the boot, hardly noticing the rain now as they flexed cramped, aching fingers.
Ianto retrieved a roll of black bags from the glove compartment and handed them out with instructions to put their wet coats in them as they got in the car.
“It’ll be a lot more comfortable than sitting in your wet things all the way back,” he pointed out in response to Owen’s grumbles
It was a good thing there were heavy-duty rubber mats front and back so their wet, muddy boots wouldn’t make a mess of the interior.
Jack got the engine running, with the heater turned up high, as the team shed their coats, scrambling inside and slamming their doors, relieved to be out of the miserable weather at last.
“According to the forecast, the wind and rain should stop by morning,” Tosh said, having checked on her phone.
“Yeah? Well let’s hope none of us have to go out again tonight.” Owen accepted a dry towel from Ianto and scrubbed at his sodden hair with it as Jack in the driver’s seat did the same. They were the only ones who hadn’t been wearing hats; the girls’ coats both had hoods and Ianto had donned a plastic rain cape he’d pulled from his coat pocket. It had come right down past his knees, keeping most of his coat dry, but now sadly had several rips in the right side thanks to the latest Rift Gift.
“Sooner we get back to the Hub the better,” he said now, peering through the rain streaming down the SUV’s windows.
“No argument from me.” Jack tossed his wet towel into Ianto’s lap, flicked the headlights and windscreen wipers on, and put the car in gear, pulling away more slowly than usual because of the poor visibility. “We all need dry clothes and a hot drink after this.”
“Sounds like heaven,” Tosh sighed. Her jeans were clinging uncomfortably and still spattered with wet sand.
There was hardly any conversation on the way back, Jack concentrating on the road, easing the SUV through several stretches that were already flooded, and the rest of the team too tired to do more than half drowse as they gradually thawed out in the warmth, but they roused themselves as the concealed door to Torchwood’s underground garage opened for them and Jack drove through.
Between them they wrestled the airlock door out of the boot and onto one of the antigrav trolleys, then left it out of the way to be dealt with later, more interested in hot showers and dry clothes. Ianto sighed and shook his head, watching his colleagues depart for the locker room, leaving him to deal with their wet coats. He supposed they’d be expecting coffee to be ready when they got back.
“Need a hand?”
Ianto turned, surprised to find Jack still there.
“Well, if you’re offering…”
“Shouldn’t take us long to hang all the coats to dry by the heat vents, then you can dry off and get changed while I make us all a hot drink.”
“No offence, Jack, but I’ve tasted your attempts at coffee.”
“Who said anything about coffee? Weather like this calls for hot cocoa, preferably with whipped cream and marshmallows, all of which we happen to have in the kitchen.”
“I picked a few things up earlier today while you were busy in the archives; there’s nothing like hot cocoa on a cold winter evening.”
“In that case, cocoa it is.” Ianto hefted several of the bags containing wet coats, leaving Jack to bring the rest, and headed for where a couple of heating vents opened on the Hub beneath one of the catwalks. It was where wet coats usually got hung since there was also a drain in the floor to handle any runoff. Half a dozen wooden hangers were hooked there ready for use so it only took the two men a few minutes to empty the bags and hang everything up.
“Looks like your rain thingy is ruined.” Jack held up the tattered garment.
“Doesn’t matter, I have more. Just shove it in one of the empty bags; it can go in the furnace with all the other rubbish when I clean up later. Don’t you have cocoa to make?”
“Indeed I do.” Jack headed off to the alcove that served as the Hub’s kitchen while Ianto headed downstairs to change into his spare suit. The one he was wearing would need to go to the dry cleaners; the trousers were soaked all the way up to his knees. He was still better off than most of the team though; at least he wouldn’t need to take a shower.
“Is the coffee ready?” Owen asked, coming up the stairs as Ianto headed down.
“Nope, Jack’s making cocoa instead.”
“Cocoa? I’m not a kid!”
“You don’t have to have any; just means there’ll be more for the rest of us,” Ianto called back over his shoulder, continuing downwards, leaving Owen grumbling. Sometimes it seemed to him as if Owen was only happy when he had something to complain about.
Ten minutes later, dried and changed, Ianto was back up in the main Hub with the rest of the team, crammed onto the battered old sofa, as Jack handed out steaming mugs topped with swirls of cream and a scattering of tiny marshmallows. Owen had stopped complaining, hands wrapped around the heat of his mug, trying to figure out how to drink from it without getting a face full of cream. Tosh was licking the cream from hers as though it was an ice cream, making happy little noises, while Gwen was picking the marshmallows off hers and eating them. Jack had cream on his nose and Ianto briefly wished he was in a position to lick it off, but instead he just followed Tosh’s example, lapping up whipped cream until he could get at the cocoa beneath.
“We should have cocoa more often,” Gwen said, finishing her last marshmallow and using a chocolate biscuit as a spoon to scoop up the cream.
“Maybe we would if Jack made it more often.” Ianto glanced across at Jack, raising one eyebrow. “Think you could be persuaded?”
“Perhaps. Now drink up; plenty more where that came from.”
Ianto smiled, sipping from his mug and feeling the warmth spread through his insides. As much as he loved coffee, Jack was right; there was nothing better to come home to on a cold winter’s evening than hot cocoa.