Title: Sweet Mystery
Characters: Jack, Ianto
Summary: Jack and Ianto are stranded in someone else’s cabin during a blizzard.
Word Count: 763
Written For: oneill’s prompt ‘Any, Any, finding an unlabeled tin can in the cabinet,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
They’ve been stuck out in the middle of nowhere in this out of the way cabin forever. Well, a week really, but it feels like forever. There’s no chance of rescue until the snow stops falling, visibility is too poor and the condition of the roads too bad for anyone to venture this far out into the countryside around Cardiff. The snow ploughs probably never come out this way, leaving the local farmers to clear the roads themselves.
It’s a good thing that the SUV is always well stocked with survival gear and emergency food supplies, an even better thing that they found this cabin in the wilderness. It’s someone’s holiday home most likely. The furniture was under dust covers when they got here, but there’s a water supply, now they’ve found the stopcock and turned it on, and a good supply of firewood, chopped and stacked under cover. The blanket box at the end of the big double bed was full of fresh sheets, pillows, and yes, even blankets, thick and warm, and very welcome for snuggling into at night. Despite the seemingly remote area, there’s even electricity, which came as a pleasant surprise.
Best of all though, there’s food in the cupboards. Not a lot, it’s true, but with that and what was in the SUV, they won’t starve. Some of the biscuits are slightly on the stale side and the only coffee is instant, but there are tea bags and hot chocolate powder, and even some packs of instant soup, just add hot water. There’s no milk of course, not even powdered, but you can’t have everything, and drinking tea black isn’t such a hardship when there’s plenty of sugar.
What there’s most of though are tins. Soup, cold meat, fruit, various canned stews, baked beans, spaghetti, vegetables, tuna fish… and right at the back of the cupboard is a tin that’s lost its label. Jack sets it on the kitchen counter on the first day and they try to guess what it might contain, comparing it to the other tins. It doesn’t match any of them, being both taller and wider.
“Maybe it’s dog food or something,” Ianto suggests.
“Maybe, but I thought that came in standard sized cans.”
They shrug and heat soup for their dinner, eating it with some crackers that are a month or so out of date but still crunchy. They turn in early, finally starting to feel warm.
Days pass, spent doing jigsaw puzzles and playing board games they found in a cupboard beside the fireplace. Sometimes they read, snuggled together under a blanket on the sofa. There are plenty of books on shelves in the inglenooks. Still the unlabelled can sits there, tempting them, a mystery waiting to be unravelled.
On the evening of their seventh day at the cabin, as they’re deciding what to have for dinner, Jack picks up the can.
“What d’you think? Fancy having pot luck tonight?”
The can’s undamaged, and still well in date. Whatever’s in it should be perfectly safe for human consumption, assuming that’s what it was intended for in the first place.
“Go on then. Do you want to do the honours or shall I?”
“I’ll do it.” Taking up the tin opener, Jack punctures the lid of the mystery tin and starts opening it. Clear liquid wells through the opening as the lid is separated from the side of the can. Not pet food then.
Ianto leans in to sniff and smiles. “I think we’d better have this for dessert. I’ll whip up one of those packets of instant custard to go with it.”
Jack pries up the lid and laughs out loud. “Rhubarb!”
Dinner that night is a feast, canned tuna, pasta and a tin of sweetcorn for the main course, rhubarb and custard for dessert. The snow has stopped and though it’s piled up deep outside, the night sky is clear. Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, search parties will be out looking for them. Owen knows enough to get UNIT and their helicopters involved. Ianto almost regrets that rescue is imminent, he’s been enjoying this interlude, but all too soon they’ll be back to work. He’ll have to find out who owns the cabin and reimburse them for what they’ve used. Maybe when the snow melts he’ll come up here and re-stock their cupboards. Naturally he’ll make sure to get a big can of rhubarb and tuck it at the very back of the cupboard. After carefully removing the label, of course. Everyone needs a bit of mystery in their life.