Pairings/Characters: Owen, Ianto
Summary: Ianto and Owen brave the cold of the Himalayas. Owen voices his reassurances, but not his apprehension.
Author's Note: This is for the "cuddling for warmth" square of my hc_bingo card. Thank you to snarkymuch for betaing!
They’ve been hiking for three days. They’re halfway up the mountain and no sign of the Yeti or whatever it was the PM sent them out here for. Owen’s beginning to wonder whether this is some sick joke. It’s freezing, he’s tired, and he wants to go home and have a pint and chat up some nice bird. No luck, though.
“This is bollocks,” he mutters as he watches Ianto moving back and forth as he unloads things to set up about their campsite. “We should just go back.”
“We can’t. He’s the Prime Minister. He asked us to do this, said it was important.”
“Yeah, well, I think he was lying.” Owen cups his gloved hands over his mouth and nose and blows into them, trying to get some feeling back into his face.
“Jack would do it.” Ianto winces a little, even as he says the name. They’ve been trying to avoid the subject of Jack for weeks, for all of their sakes. It hasn’t been going well. They’re all missing him, all feeling guilty, and being up here in the frozen mountains where they could die at any time from non-alien things feels like a punishment.
“Jack wouldn’t have to worry about his important bits freezing off, apparently. And Jack’s good at getting out of shit like this.”
Ianto ignores him, grunting as he shakes the canvas tent loose from its folds. “Help me with the tent. Once we get it set up you can complain all you want.”
The girls are setting up their own tent a few metres away. Owen considers sitting out and letting Ianto do all the work, but he figures that moving around will warm him up a bit.
“Why do we get all the tech and none of the food?” Owen grumbles once they’ve set up the tent and put all the things inside.
“Because we have the bigger tent,” Ianto tells him as he pulls off his boots. “And the girls don’t trust you not to gorge yourself.”
Owen rolls his eyes. “Shut up.”
Ianto pulls off his snowsuit and retrieves a jumper and sweatpants from his pack. He puts them on over his long johns. “Get dressed, Owen, and go to bed. We have a long day tomorrow.”
He does as he’s told, climbing into his sleeping bag and closing his eyes. He barely manages to drift off before he jerks away from the draught seeping through the cloth of his sleeping bag. It penetrates his skin and it feels like ice is running across his body. Damned ‘any weather guarantee’ bollocks. It’s bloody cold. He squeeze himself into the foetal position, trying to lessen the space of his body.
Owen’s teeth are chattering—he’s shivering so hard, it’s a wonder his insides aren’t jelly. Even huddled into a ball inside his sleeping bag, he can swear his breath hangs like ice crystals in the air. He huffs and reluctantly pokes his head out into the freezing air.
“Ianto? You awake?”
His dignity is far less important than not freezing his balls off. “I’m freezing. Can I—can I come over there?”
Rustling, half of a laugh. “I was wondering when you were going to ask. Yeah. I’m cold too.”
“Evidently not as much of a problem for you.”
“I’m not made out of toothpicks.”
“Shut up. Budge up a bit, will you?”
Owen climbs into Ianto’s sleeping bag and is grateful for how skinny he is; it’s a tight fit. They’re spooning, because it’s easier and because it’s less awkward than sleeping face-to-face. Ianto wriggles and shifts, trying to find a comfortable position behind Owen, and finally wraps one arm around Owen’s waist. Owen says nothing, and he can hear the Welshman breath a near-silent sigh of relief. It feels strangely comforting to have a warm body beside him. They settle down to sleep.
Even after a long time, Ianto’s breath still hasn’t slowed and evened out. Owen sighs. “I think he’ll come back.”
Ianto tenses up, his grip on Owen’s body tightening fractionally. “Why’s that?”
“Because he’s not going to leave Cardiff in the hands of blockheads like us. I’m thinking he just popped out for a bender or a break or whatever. He’ll be back in no time. Hopefully, he’ll keep his wild stories to himself.”
“You’re still shivering.” Ianto changes the subject. For weeks now, it’s been his tactic whenever the subject of Jack comes up.
“I’m still cold.”
Ianto shifts again, making Owen grumble when his movements let more cold air rush in, but the Welshman tosses a leg over Owen’s and settles back down.
“Gayer. But yes, it is warmer. Thanks.”
Owen glares at him over his shoulder. “The girls won’t know about this, alright?”
Ianto puts his head down on their shared pillow and falls asleep a few moments later. As he’s drifting off, Owen realizes that he really is much warmer.
He wakes in the middle of the night to find they’ve shifted in their sleep. Owen is facing Ianto, who has his head tucked under Owen’s chin, his lips against his shoulder, his arm still slung over Owen’s side. Owen’s left hand has come up to cup the back of Ianto’s neck, his left trapped limply between them. Owen feels the press of lips against his shoulder and stares at Ianto’s face in the dim light. The Welshman’s pulse is steady against his arm, and he finds himself reluctant to move. His stomach twists at the sight of the slumbering man.
Owen shifts a little, and Ianto snuggles closer, muttering something that sounds like “Jack.” Owen shushes him, watching until the wrinkles of distress smooth out on his skin.
For a moment, Owen hates himself because this isn’t going to end well, not at all. But Ianto is warm and quiet, his arm heavy across Owen’s side, his breath ghosting over the scar he put in Owen’s shoulder. Ianto looks ten years younger, innocent and peaceful, when he’s asleep, when his face isn’t a bland mask and his eyes aren’t hard, scared windows. Owen suddenly feels like he needs to protect Ianto, to keep him from further harm. It’s not a good feeling. He knows it will end badly. But he also knows that he’s shit at staying away from stuff like this, and that he’s going to do it anyway.