Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen.
Summary: Ianto’s day started off quite well, but now it’s going downhill fast.
Word Count: 2733
Written For: Challenge # 27: Channel at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A/N: I got this idea from my friend lexxiescott when we were having a conversation about storms. Something she mentioned reminded me of m_findlow’s fic ‘Stormy Weather’ so I sent her the link for it and before she read it, she had this idea… ‘When I saw your description, I got this idea of a cloud that follows Ianto around reacting to his moods, so everyone is doing everything they possibly can to keep Ianto happy so the cloud won't start raining on him, and randomly striking the one that pissed him off with lightning.’ After some thought, I realised it could work for this challenge, so I asked permission to use the idea, and here it is. I thought it would be funny, but it’s actually a bit sad. Fluffy H/C.
Ianto Jones was in a bad mood and it showed, rather graphically. He’d started the day feeling quite cheerful but now, thanks to an unfortunate accident involving a mood predictor he’d been repairing and a weather control device that had just arrived through the Rift, he had a dark cloud hanging over his head. Literally.
Everywhere he went, the cloud followed, hovering a couple of feet above his head, growing steadily darker and giving off ominous little rumbles of thunder, accompanied by tiny flashes of lightning as his mood deteriorated further. Owen wasn’t helping matters by constantly poking fun at him about his thunderous expression and how he needed to lighten up. Personally, Ianto didn’t see anything funny about the situation, especially as it meant he would be stuck in the Hub until it could be resolved. Jack had already been forced to phone the restaurant and cancel the table he’d booked because the way things stood, date night was out of the question.
By the time Owen started going on about a storm in a Teaboy, Ianto had endured more than enough, and Jack clearly felt the same.
“That’s enough, Owen,” he snapped, glaring at the team’s medic.
“Oh come on, that was funny!” Owen smirked. “You two need to stop takin’ yourselves so seriously.”
Ianto’s storm cloud grew blacker still and the thunder increased in volume, but Owen carried on oblivious, ignoring the warning signs.
“I mean I know Teaboy’s got a stick up his arse the size of a telegraph pole, but I thought you had more of a sense of humour. OW!” Owen yelped and flinched back, rubbing his shoulder where the bolt of lightning had hit him.
Jack laughed. “Serves you right!”
Tosh grinned too, from where she was working on the two devices, trying to disrupt the feedback loop they’d been caught in since one had fallen on the other, causing them both to short circuit. “You totally had that coming, Owen!”
“Why am I suddenly getting picked on?” Owen asked in an aggrieved tone.
“Because you’re being an arse,” Gwen giggled.
“It’s not nice to make fun of someone who’s having a bad day,” Tosh agreed.
“Whatever. Teaboy should watch his temper before someone gets hurt.”
Ianto sighed gloomily. He hadn’t made the lightning hit Owen, but somehow he just knew the abrasive Londoner would be looking for revenge as soon as Ianto’s problem was fixed and he could be sure he was safe from any more electrical retaliation. As if he didn’t have enough to be miserable about already. He’d really been looking forward to a night out with Jack. His gloom increased as the first heavy drops of water hit him on the head. Great, now his gloomy mood was raining on him.
The more his gloom increased, the harder the cloud rained on him, and the wetter he got, the gloomier he felt. It was a vicious circle and there seemed no way out of it. Ianto simply stood there in the middle of the Hub, getting steadily wetter and feeling thoroughly sorry for himself, until a pair of warm arms enfolded him a hug.
“Don’t be sad, Ianto,” Jack murmured against his lover’s ear. “We’ll fix this, or at least Tosh will. Come on, cheer up; if you don’t stop raining on yourself your suit might shrink and you know how much I like this one on you.”
“Sorry. You’re getting wet now too,” Ianto mumbled against Jack’s shoulder.
“I don’t care, I’ve been rained on plenty of times before, just never quite so personally.”
Ianto chuckled faintly and the rain started to ease up, but Jack kept hugging him until it stopped completely. Managing a wan smile as he finally pulled away from Jack’s embrace, Ianto looked at the state they were both in. “We’re like a couple of drowned rats,” he said ruefully.
“Nothing a towel and some dry clothes won’t fix,” Jack assured him. “Why don’t we go and get changed? Mopping up can wait.” Taking Ianto by the hand, Jack led him towards the locker room.
Returning to the main Hub fifteen minutes later, feeling much more comfortable in dry clothes and if not exactly cheerful, at least less gloomy, Ianto set to work cleaning up the rain puddle his earlier wallow in self pity had caused. Normally, he considered himself good at hiding his emotions; he’d perfected a bland, polite smile that made it impossible for anyone to tell what he was really feeling. Now though, he felt naked and exposed, every change of mood clearly visible because of his own personal mood cloud.
Jack left Ianto cleaning, knowing that the young Welshman often found it both soothing and therapeutic, as if by putting his physical surroundings in order he could do the same with his thoughts and emotions. The cloud hanging over Ianto’s head was still grey, but a lighter shade now, and the rumbles of thunder seemed to have stopped, which was a definite improvement. As long as Owen refrained from taunting him, they should all be safe from anger-induced lightning bolts. The last thing they needed was Ianto accidentally frying any of the Hub’s systems.
Wandering over to where Tosh was working on the fused devices, Jack leant against the table and folded his arms across his chest. “How’s it going?”
“Slowly.” Tosh looked up at Jack with an apologetic smile. “Sorry, but there are a lot of intricate circuits to repair before I can even attempt to cancel or reverse whatever protocols are in operation.”
“Any idea why this is happening to Ianto?”
“Well, he was working on the mood predictor when the weather controller fell on it, so he must have been caught in some sort of energy field.”
“Fell? Owen was playing catch with it when he came in and managed to drop it. It’s a miracle Ianto was only stunned and not electrocuted!”
“It slipped out of my hand!” Owen protested from his workstation.
“It shouldn’t have been in your hand in the first place, you should have put it in a containment unit for transport.”
“I knew what it was, we had another one come through the Rift a few months back.”
“Not the point. Safety protocols exist for a reason, Owen; they prevent this kind of accident!”
“I said I was sorry.”
“No, actually you didn’t.”
Tosh broke in quickly before the argument could escalate. Ianto was in hearing range and she didn’t want him getting upset again, he’d just looked so forlorn and bedraggled standing there with rain pouring down on him. “Anyway, as far as I can work out, Ianto was using his own moods to adjust the mood predictor’s settings. When the two devices got fused together, the weather controller somehow started channelling Ianto’s emotions and now whatever he’s feeling is being displayed in the form of weather.”
“Can’t you just turn the devices off?”
“No.” Tosh was definite about that. “If I switch them off without undoing their effects, Ianto could be stuck like this for the rest of his life.”
It was immediately evident that Ianto had heard every word; a cold wind swept through the Hub and snow started falling from Ianto’s cloud, quickly turning into a small blizzard. It was a pretty graphic representation of bleak despair.
Owen snorted. “It’s like watchin’ the weather channel, only better.”
“It’s not funny, Owen!” Tosh snapped as Jack hurried to cuddle Ianto, trying to reassure him that he wouldn’t be like this forever. Whatever he said must have worked because the wind died down and the snow started to melt.
Ianto looked down at his clothes. “Now I’m wet again.”
“Maybe you could dry yourself off, you just need to find the right mood to give yourself a light breeze.”
“You’re daft,” Ianto told him, laughing softly. It didn’t get him the drying breeze, but a small sun peeped out from behind his cloud and bathed him in its warming rays, which had the desired effect, making little tendrils of steam start to rise from his damp hair and the shoulders of his jacket. It was a good trick since there’d been no sign of a sun before and there wasn’t really anywhere it could have been hiding.
The day continued, and the term ‘changeable as the weather’ seemed particularly appropriate where Ianto’s moods were concerned. It made him acutely aware of how rapidly his moods could change, something he’d never really paid any attention to before; it was like someone flicking through TV channels on their remote.
He did his best to ignore his personalised weather system while doing what he could to help Tosh fix his predicament, but when he became confused by something she was trying to explain, they suddenly found themselves engulfed in a heavy fog, which only dissipated when Tosh’s explanation finally made sense to him.
Ianto apologised sheepishly and fetched dry cloths to wipe the moisture from her screens and desk. Tosh just smiled sympathetically and patted his arm. “Don’t worry about it.”
Over lunch in the boardroom, while Jack played footsie with Ianto under the table, a fresh, playful little breeze eddied around the pair of them, ruffling their hair and plucking at their clothes. When Jack’s foot crept higher, Ianto’s cloud turned white and fluffy, and the little sun made another appearance. This time it put out so much heat that the rest of the team fled the room, fanning themselves, leaving the two men to make the most of the good weather.
The afternoon was mostly cloudy with occasional showers, a frustration tornado and two thunderstorms, both caused by Owen leaving a mess for Ianto to clean up. This time he got hit in the arse by one of Ianto’s mini lightning bolts.
“If you had any sense,” Jack said when Owen complained to him, “you’d avoid antagonising Ianto. He has no conscious control over the weather conditions his emotions are creating, so you really only have yourself to blame.”
“Why don’t you just lock him in a cell so his moods don’t bother the rest of us?”
“Because Ianto hasn’t done anything wrong. If anyone deserves punishment, it’s you; your carelessness caused the problem, and if you’re suffering for it, that’s no more than you deserve. Now leave Ianto alone and try cleaning up after yourself for a change.”
“Fine.” Owen stomped off, grumbling.
Ianto, who’d overheard, started to drizzle. He quickly covered his suit with a split black plastic rubbish bag, wearing it around his shoulders like a rain cape, and wandered across to Jack. “I’m going downstairs to mope in the shower. At least that way my clothes won’t get too wet.” He shambled away, still drizzling disconsolately, leaving a little trail of raindrops behind him. Jack watched him go, feeling helpless.
When Ianto returned half an hour later, his mood had visibly improved; his cloud was fluffy and pale grey verging on white, and there was a hint of sunshine at one edge. Jack had packed Owen off home while Ianto had been in the showers, and Gwen had left soon after since there wasn’t really anything she could do to help and she’d promised Rhys that she’d try to get home at a decent time.
Jack was busy assisting Tosh, which in this instance mostly involved holding things and passing them to her when she asked for them. She didn’t really need the help, but it seemed to make Jack feel like he was making a contribution towards fixing Ianto’s weather woes.
“Any progress?” Ianto asked.
“I think so.” Tosh glanced up with a smile. “Give me half an hour and I think I’ll be ready to try ending the programmes that are running. Then I’ll reset the devices and if that succeeds it should put everything back to normal for you.”
“That would be nice; I’m getting tired of being able to literally rain on my own parade.” Ianto smiled wryly; as jokes went it was rather weak, but it was the best he could manage. “How about coffee?”
“Yes please!” Tosh gave Ianto a quick hug before turning back to her work.
“You read my mind!” Jack grinned, planting a sloppy kiss on Ianto’s cheek, making him laugh as he turned away to make their drinks, little rays of sunshine dancing around him.
It ended up taking Tosh just under an hour to finish fixing the machines, thanks to their coffee break, but at last everything was as ready as it could be. Ianto took his place with the mood predictor, following Tosh’s instructions, while Tosh herself handled the weather controller.
“Okay, next punch in the End Programme sequence,” Tosh said, doing so on the device she held as Ianto simultaneously pressed a series of buttons on his. Nervous gusts of wind were blowing around him and the cloud was still hovering over his head.
“Nothing’s happening.” A worried frown wrinkled his forehead and thunder rumbled faintly.
“It won’t yet.” Tosh watched both devices as they gradually shut down all the programmes they had running. “Alright, so far so good. Press the reset button on three. Ready?” Ianto nodded. “Three, two, one, now!!
A tingling sensation passed through Ianto, starting at his scalp and exiting through the soles of his feet. Even as Jack watched, the little cloud seemed to break apart and evaporate into nothing.
Ianto looked up and then sagged with relief, putting the mood predictor on Tosh’s workbench and leaning against Jack.
“Oh, thank God. No more indoor thunderstorms or rain showers!”
Jack hugged him. “That’s a good thing, but I think I might sort of miss being able to tell how you feel just by looking at you.”
Ianto smirked. “Tough. Now you’ll just have to go back to figuring it out the old fashioned way. By asking.” He smiled, and Jack thought he could almost see the blue skies and bright sunshine surrounding them.
“I can do that.” He kissed Ianto on the temple and then on the lips. “Feel better now?”
“Much better, thanks. Now I’m back to normal, I think I’m going to give up on fixing that bloody mood predictor and lock it away in secure storage. It’s already caused more trouble than it’s worth.”
“I don’t blame you at all,” Jack agreed, “and I think that particular weather controller should be locked away too, just to be on the safe side. No telling what permanent damage dropping it like that might have caused, and I don’t think we want to risk testing it.”
“We should remove both their power sources as well, and put them in separate boxes,” Tosh added. “I can do it. Why don’t you two see if you can salvage what’s left of the evening?” She looked at Jack. “Ianto told me you were supposed to be going out on a date and it’s only just after nine. You could still do something nice”
“Are you sure you don’t mind, Tosh?” Ianto asked.
“Not at all. After the day you’ve had, you deserve some fun. I’ll finish up here and see you in the morning.”
“Thanks, Tosh.” Jack put his arm around her and planted a kiss on the top of her head. “We owe you; why don’t you take tomorrow morning off and pamper yourself a bit?”
“I’ll do that. Now shoo.”
“Yes Ma’am.” Jack saluted.
Tosh watched, smiling fondly, as Jack and Ianto fetched their coats and headed out, discussing takeaway options and whether or not to rent a movie. As the cog door sirens faded, she went to get containment boxes, made the devices safe, packed everything away and consigned the whole lot to the safe, efficiently updating the logs so that Ianto wouldn’t have that to do in the morning.
Returning to her computers, she pulled up the Hub CCTV and saved the footage of Ianto and his cloud to disc, paying special attention to Owen’s close encounters with the lightning bolts. Then she finished off a few other tasks, set everything to night mode, and took the invisible lift up to the Plass.
She was a little sorry that she wouldn’t be there first thing in the morning to see Owen’s reaction to his new desktop wallpaper and screensaver, but she knew she could always watch it later on CCTV. She was sure it would be priceless.