Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Word Count: 1507
Summary: Ianto and Jack are in a bit of a mess, but where’s the hot water when you need it?
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 147: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, using Challenge 88: Hot Water
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“I don’t believe this!” Ianto snarled, his frayed temper finally snapping. “I’m covered in slime and alien guts and there’s no hot water! I get to choose between being unbearably sticky and stinking like a charnel house, and risking hypothermia in an attempt to get clean!”
Jack sympathised; he was in the same disgusting state thanks to the alien they’d been chasing, but at least he knew if he showered in the frigid water that was all that was available right now, hypothermia wouldn’t cause him any permanent harm. It might kill him, but he’d recover, which was more than could be said for Ianto.
The alien had been a species even Jack had never come across before. Greyish, lumpy, and roughly globular, it was coated with a thick layer of yellow-tinged slime, presumably some kind of natural protection against the elements on its home planet. On earth, the slime just seemed to make all the litter and other detritus on Cardiff’s streets stick to any part of the creature it came in contact with, and since it got about by sort of rolling, it had soon looked like a mobile rubbish tip.
It had also proved to be surprisingly fast, and it hadn’t taken Ianto and Jack long before they’d started regretting chasing it on foot rather than using the SUV. Okay, so they’d been having a pleasant evening stroll when Jack’s wrist strap had beeped, alerting them to the fact that the Rift had dropped Cardiff’s latest uninvited guest just a few streets away from them, but they could have returned to the Hub first in order to equip themselves properly rather than just cutting through a couple of alleyways to take a look at what they were dealing with. Instead, they’d both agreed that would take too much time, and once they’d got a good look at the creature, there hadn’t seemed to be much point in going back for the SUV since whatever the thing was, it was obviously too big to fit in the car’s rear compartment anyway. They’d looked at each other, shrugged, and set off after it.
Half an hour into their pursuit, they’d found another, even better reason for wishing they had Torchwood’s official vehicle for protection. They’d been running flat out down the middle of the street, dodging slime smears on the ground, when their quarry must have rolled over something that didn’t exactly agree with it. It rolled to a halt, quivering, various parts of its body, if you could call it that, intermittently bulging and subsiding. They’d slowed too, but kept advancing, coming to within a few metres of it before it exploded suddenly and very messily all over them. The only thing Ianto had wanted to do from that moment on had been to take a long, hot shower and wash the congealing alien bits off himself. It smelled even worse than it had looked.
Jack had called in the rest of the team to start cleanup while he and Ianto squelched their way back to the Hub. They intended to take samples of what they were covered with before heading for Torchwood’s showers to get clean, where the wastewater would go through several decontamination processes to deal with any harmful chemicals or organisms it might contain. Not until they were decontaminated themselves and dressed in clean clothes, could they go back and help with cleanup. It was standard operating procedure for anyone who came in contact with unknown substances; you couldn’t be too careful.
Chilly, tired, uncomfortable, and rather ripe-smelling, they’d arrived at the Hub anticipating the pleasure of warming up under a stream of hot water, but on shedding their filthy clothes and dropping them on the tiled floor to be dealt with later, they’d made the unpleasant discovery that only ice-cold water was coming from the showerheads. A thorough investigation had shown that someone had turned the furnace down so low that it had gone out, resulting in their current predicament and Ianto’s furious outburst.
“Whoever turned the bloody thing down is going on decaf for life!” Ianto snarled, hugging himself and shivering; the tiles beneath his feet felt like blocks of ice. So did his feet, when it came to that. He should have known something was off by the frigid temperature in the shower room, it was never that cold in there, since it was right next door to the furnace room to ensure piping hot water at all times, and had under-floor heating into the bargain. Having access to so much alien tech allowed for certain perks.
“You might as well put your clothes back on for the moment while I get the furnace fired up and start the water heating again,” Jack told him.
“Hell with that!” Ianto tugged trousers, socks, squelchy shoes, and his shirt back on. “I’m not going to stand around here freezing my balls off; I’ll help, it’ll be faster with two and at least if I’m moving around I’m less likely to catch my death of pneumonia.” So saying, he trailed after Jack into the next room, muttering imprecations under his breath against the idiot responsible for the lack of hot water.
Torchwood’s furnace, which was mostly built from alien tech, was capable of burning just about anything. Whatever was thrown into it burned away almost completely, converted to heat and energy with very little in the way of emissions. It was where they got rid of the bits and pieces of aliens that weren’t needed for research purposes, along with various devices that needed to be disposed of. Most of Torchwood’s waste, in fact, was disposed of inside it, except for those things that Ianto considered were best put out for recycling. The downside was that it took time, effort, and quantities of the more normal types of fuels to get its temperature up high enough to burn other things, which was why it was seldom allowed to go out.
An hour and a half later, the furnace was going well, the water tank was heating up nicely, and both Jack and Ianto were feeling somewhat warmer than they had been. Ianto stripped off his shirt, shoes, and socks, tossing them into the furnace. The suit he would try to salvage, it was a nice one and like all of Ianto’s suits, as soon as he’d bought it he’d treated it with a protective alien substance, which helped to prevent the fabric from absorbing dirt and becoming stained. Jack used the same stuff on his coat. Shirts and underwear were more easily replaceable, so they had to take their chances. Shoes… well, there wasn’t much even alien dirt and stain repellents could do to protect those, even alien inventions had their limits, and the slime had done a thorough job of ruining them; they were more useful now as fuel. Jack consigned his own shirts and underwear to the furnace before following Ianto back into the shower room.
Having hung Ianto’s suit and Jack’s coat in a clothing decontamination cubicle and started the cleaning cycle, the two men stepped into one of the double showers, where twin showerheads sprayed water from opposite sides. Closing the door and adjusting the water to a comfortable temperature, Ianto groaned with pleasure as at long last, hot water cascaded over his head and shoulders, pouring down his back and starting to sluice away the dried on slime; it felt amazing. Digging his fingers into his hair, where slime and bits of alien had dried into a putrid crust, he set about loosening the gunk, keeping his head tipped back so that none of it went in his eyes or mouth.
Under the second spray, Jack was busy doing the same. “Nothing beats a shower for getting you clean,” he sighed, reaching for the specially formulated decontaminating shower gel that was kept in all the showers, and starting to slather it over his head and body.
“Correction,” Ianto replied from behind him. “Nothing beats a hot shower. I’ll take this over standing under a deluge of cold water any day. In fact, I like it so much I’m tempted to stay here all night!”
“You’d go all pruney!” Jack laughed.
“It would absolutely be worth it.”
“In that case, maybe I’ll stay in here with you. I’m sure we can find some way to entertain ourselves once we’re decontaminated.”
Ianto glanced over his shoulder at Jack. “Good plan; the others can handle clean-up by themselves for once, we’ve earned this.”
“Agreed. Want me to get your back for you?”
“Only if I can return the favour.”
“I think that can be arranged.” Under the steaming spray, Jack’s hands got to work, making sure every inch of Ianto was properly decontaminated, knowing it would be his turn in just a few minutes. And afterwards? Well, there was plenty of hot water now so they could just take their time. Ianto was right; they’d earned the right to indulge and Jack was determined they’d make the most of it.