"What's happening?" Jack asked as he came out of his office and stood on the balcony overlooking where his team now stood. "Is it a lockdown?"
"No, just another power cut." Toshiko informed him.
"Christ, that's the third one this week!" Owen groaned, and the sound of Toshiko's typing resumed as she attempted to get their systems back up and running, and restore the lights.
"Ouch that's my foot!" Gwen cried out as somebody stumbled into her.
"Oh, sorry Gwen." Ianto apologised. "Didn't see you there." There was a sound of more shuffling footsteps before another almighty crash as Ianto unwittingly stumbled right into the back of Owen in his attempt to further distance himself from Gwen.
"Umph, why don't you watch where you're going?" Owen snarled as he made hard acquaintance with the cold stone floor, Ianto not too far behind.
"Well I would if I could see where I was going!" Ianto shot back sarcastically. "I'm sorry!"
"RIGHT EVERYBODY JUST STAND STILL!" Jack suddenly shouted from where he continued to maintain his position some way above them. "Toshiko, how long before you think you can get the systems back online?" He asked her.
"Well, it would help if I could actually see the keys in front of me." She responded, sounding somewhat annoyed herself, "but, yes… I think I'm almost there."
"Just make it quick, hey Tosh!" Owen snapped. "I'm sitting in something wet here, and I don't think it's residue from the leaking roof… this is my third change of trousers this week!"
"It's ok Owen." Ianto said, thinking he could probably provide an explanation for the wet and sticky puddle the doctor now found himself sitting in. "I think I must have spilt some of the coffee when I bumped into Gwen."
"Oh great!" Owen groaned, Ianto's attempts to reassure him seeming to have no effect what so ever. "Next time I order a hot beverage Ianto I'd appreciate at least a taste of what I've ordered first before I end up wearing it."
"Got it!" Toshiko cried as she slammed her fingers down onto the keys before her, and with a whir of electricity the lights flickered slightly before slowly coming back on, one bulb at a time.
"Everybody alright?" Jack asked as he descended the stairs to check on his disgruntled team.
"I think so." Gwen nodded as she made her way over to help Ianto assist Owen back on his feet again. The two had to stifle a small laugh as they caught sight of the young man's dishevelled appearance. He was half soaked in coffee and his trousers were covered in a gooey mixture of hot doe and jam where he had obviously landed in a box of freshly made doughnuts.
"Thanks." Owen looked at them both and offered them his gratitude sarcastically as he caught a glimpse of the expression on Gwen's face. "Just remember any time you're in need of a hand, to call me first so that I can have a good laugh at your expense."
"I'll just nip out for a fresh order." Ianto told everyone, seeing this as his cue to take his leave. He could sense the tension in the room and hoped to diffuse the situation with a fresh batch of sugar laden treats and caffeinated beverages. "I'll be back soon."
"Hang on Ianto." Jack called after him as the young man raced off to retrieve his coat. Ianto stopped short and turned back to face his Captain.
"Would you like to change your order sir?" He asked him.
"No nothing like that Ianto." Jack assured him. He was relieved that none of his team weren't too seriously injured. The only real casualty seemed to have been Owens pride, which could benefit from a good thrashing once in a while. "I've been thinking that maybe the five of us should go on vacation." He mused.
"Vacation?" Owen and Gwen both looked at each other with barely concealed amazement. Jack was a tough worker, some would say a workaholic, and was statistically more likely to expect the team in at all unworldly hours of the morning to work on a new case rather than to suggest that they went off on vacation together.
"Well it's not as though any of us can get any real work done around here like this is it?" He asked them. "These power cuts are ridiculous, and until Ianto can get somebody competent to come in a fix the internal generators - preferably somebody who's not going to let slip to the entire rest of Cardiff the exact location of our Torchwood headquarters and what exactly it is that we are up to down here this time," he said, looking at the Welshman as he said this, who looked away sheepishly, "then there's not really very much more that we can do here."
"No." Owen agreed. "At least not until we've managed to replenish an entire year's supply of Retcon, and rumours of that unidentified substance which was found to have leaked into the City's water supply have stopped circulating anyway!" He added.
"Well I can't be expected to get it right all the time," Ianto protested, and Jack patted him reassuringly on the shoulder, so as to indicate that he did not really consider any of this to be his fault.
"But what about Cardiff?" Gwen asked, "What about Torchwood? The fate of the Human race?"
"Your modestly, small kind have been cohabiting with aliens and conquering new worlds long before Torchwood was even conceived." Jack told her. "I'm sure they can cope without us for a few days."
"But Jack…" Owen frowned – although as abruptly as he had brought the subject up Jack appeared to have closed the conversation.
"I want any ideas on my desk first thing tomorrow morning." He said as he began to make his way back in the direction of his office, taking the stairs two at a time. "Ummm Ianto, when you get back I'd like a quick word with you if I may?" He added with a playful wink at the young man. "The rest of you may as well take the rest of the evening off. I'll see you back here bright and early tomorrow morning."
Once he had gone however, and the rest of the team were halfway out of the door themselves – each about to say goodnight and go their separate ways - Gwen home to Rhys, Toshiko to her empty if not suitably comfortable flat where there may be a good book and a mug of hot cocoa waiting for her, Owen in all likelihood off on the pull somewhere, and Ianto in the direction of the local coffee shop with only Jack and his own coffee order to worry about this time around – they looked at each other, clearly confused.
"What do you think's got into him?" Toshiko asked.
"I don't knot." Gwen shrugged. "He has been pushing us all rather hard lately though, maybe he's finally cracked?"
"He'll have probably forgotten all about it anyway by morning," Owen through in his own ten pence worth - he sounded a little disappointed as he said it though, "but you have to agree that a holiday would have been one of his better ideas."
To their surprise when the team arrived the following morning Jack had not forgotten however, and three days later they found themselves sitting idly around the table in the boardroom, where he had summoned them for a meeting.
"Listen, what's all this about Jack?" Owen asked as the Captain came striding through the door and closing it briskly behind him, a slight spring in his step. "We have got work to be getting on with you know!"
"I know." Jack told them, raising a hand to quieten the young doctor before taking his seat at the head of the table. "Bear with me, this is important!"
"What's wrong Jack?" Gwen asked him.
"I've been sorting through suggestions for the vacation." He informed them all with a knowing smile. "And I think I've finally come to a satisfactory conclusion, on which I think we can all agree."
"What have you decided then?" Toshiko pressed him brightly, her dark eyes alight with the anticipation. Gwen looked at her, she was so pretty when she smiled, she thought - if only she would smile more often.
"Well let me first start by saying, Owen, America? Hardly the most imaginative of suggestions was it? America's a big place you know!" He looked at the man with slightly raised eyebrows, a mild note of sarcasm in his tone.
"Well how was I supposed to know you were serious?" Owen muttered. "Besides I didn't say where exactly in America did I? As you say, it's a big place!"
It was true that none of them had initially believed it when Jack had first suggested that they take a vacation, but now that they knew he was serious they couldn't deny that it was just a little bit exciting.
"And Gwen… I'm surprised that you of all people couldn't have come up with somewhere a little more exotic!" Jack continued, now turning to address the young woman.
"Well it was where Rhys and I spent our first weekend away together." She explained, trying to justify her suggestion.
"Rhys, ever the romantic." Jack teased.
"Hey, don't mock it! It was all we could afford at the time!" She proclaimed. "Besides, itwas romantic!"
"Awww." Owen chorused. "It's enough to make you sick!" He groaned, his tone dripping with sarcasm, and the smirk in his eyes lit up his entire face as he said it.
Gwen's empty mug went hurtling past Jack in the direction of the doctor, narrowly missing him by a matter of inches. Owen spotted the threat with only a few seconds to spare, and quickly dodged out of the way. The mug skimmed the edge of the table, finally coming to rest in the space between Owen and where Toshiko was now sitting, before it landed and smashed on the floor.
"Great!" Ianto sighed. "This months VAT claims form is beginning to read something like my old grannies weekly shopping list!"
"What? What was your granny doing buying a new mug each week?" Toshiko smiled.
"She happened to be a little clumsy in her old age!" Ianto retaliated. Things were starting to get a little heated, and it wasn't all in good humour.
"Hey!" Owen growled at Gwen. "Watch it!"
"Why don't you go boil your balls Owen?" She snapped back, although the look Jack shot them made them reconsider pursuing their argument any further.
Leaning forward across the table, putting himself between the two of them, he barked; "That's enough!".
"So where are we going then Jack?" Toshiko was the first to break the silence after a few seconds had passed, and things has started to get uncomfortable.
"Well…" Jack hesitated, glancing around at each of his team in turn. They looked to him expectantly. "We're off to the countryside." He told them.
"The countryside?" They scoffed in unison, not so much in disgust or disapproval but more the disappointment that their Captain hadn't chosen somewhere a little more exciting.
"Camping sounds like a fun idea I thought?" Jack said, revelling in his team's disappointed expressions. "How about camping?" He asked them
"Who suggested that?" Gwen asked.
"Well I'm not going camping!" Toshiko stated her opposition firmly and to everyone's surprise - normally one of the quieter and more reserved members of the group, Owen had assumed that, naturally, camping would be right up her street.
"I bet it was Ianto!" He complained bitterly.
"Hey!" Ianto protested, apparantly hurt by the insinuation that he couldn't have suggested somewhere a little more exotic. "Actually I suggested somewhere hot, like Italy or south of France maybe… I haven't been to France in a while." He told them.
"Ianto, you dark horse." Gwen chided, patting her young colleague playfully on the shoulder. Ianto however wasn't about to take their insults lying down. "Well at least it's better than some camping trip in the middle of nowhere." He responded.
"You can say that again." Gwen agreed.
"Yes, but…" Toshiko frowned, evidently having found the obvious flaw in the suggestion, "may I just ask Jack, if Gwen hasn't suggested this, and Ianto apparently hasn't either, and let's face it, camping is hardly in Owen's cup of tea is it… and I most certainly haven't, then who did?"
"Ah…" Jack smiled impishly, "well… you have Janet to blame for that I'm afraid."
This response however met with even more incredulity than before, and Jack found himself with a lot of explaining to do.
"Janet?" Toshiko exclaimed.
"As in the weevil?" Owen asked.
"From downstairs?" Ianto added, and this remark was met with a series of disapproving glances from the rest of the team. Jack however simply smiled. Somethung about the young Welshman's rather impish sense of humour really turned him on.
"It sounded better in my head before I said it." He responded meakly, slightly embarrassed. He noticed Jack smiling at him and smiled slightly back. The Captain winked playfully in his direction.
"Well, whatever." Owen shrugged, it appeared he too had noticed Jack's smile, and he evidently wasn't happy. "All I want to know Jack is this, Janet is a Weevil right? She can't even talk, well not in any logical, meaningful sense of the word in any case… and now you have her choosing holiday destinations for us?"
"Does she even understand what the concept of a holiday is?" Gwen asked. "I mean, do Weevils take holidays?"
"You know Gwen, I've never really thought about it," Owen snapped at her, "and to be honest I don't really care! I'm hardly going to go home tonight, wasting my time wondering whether Weevil's take holidays or not! I'm going to go home, fix myself something to eat, have a few beers maybe, get dressed and go out on the pull, and do you know why Gwen? Because that's what I do! That's what I do every single night of my life, and I like it! No, in fact I love it! What I don't like, no, what I really don't like, is stupid camping trips to the countryside!"
"Owen!" Toshiko snapped, sensing Gwen's expression change. "That was uncalled for!"
"I…don't…care!" He retorted, somewhat childishly, but then there was a voice that silenced them all.
"Right, this stops now!"
Gwen and Owen immediately turned to look at Jack, thinking it was he, but he looked just as surprised as they did.
Then they all noticed, Ianto was out of his seat.
The normally quiet and reserved Welshman, who had been sitting quietly, observing the proceedings from the far, was panting slightly with the exertion. His cheeks were flushed and filling even further with pink now that he had the eyes of the entire team upon him, his own wide with the surprise of his own boldness.
"I'm sorry." He crocked, clearing his throat. "I don't know where that came from!"
Jack simply chucked, as Ianto retook his seat.
"So…" Gwen finally asked. "Why Janet then?"
"Well the rest of you couldn't agree on somewhere to go." Jack explained. "So I thought rather than wasting pointless hours pondering on how I could possibly please all of you, and getting nowhere, I might as well give her a choice in the matter… perhaps get a few fresh ideas, you know, keep my options open."
"And she complied?" Ianto asked. "How did you manage that one?"
"Well she kinda pointed and grunted…" Jack shrugged, as though to suggest that he wasn't really entirely sure, but was trying to appear casual about it.
"Brilliant!" Owen sighed, "So now the Weevil's coming with us? And I thought this couldn't get any worse!"
"Ummm…" Jack hesitated. "You've forgotten the Pterodactyl."
"What?" The doctor exclaimed.
"Well we can't just leave them here can we?" Jack asked him. "For one thing I didn't think Ianto would ever forgive me for the suggestion that we expect them to fend for themselves for the week."
Owen was already on his feet again now and Jack felt it pointless to continue with the conversation any further.
"Where are you going?" He asked him.
"Where do you think I'm going ? The Scooby Mobil!" Owen responded sarcastically. "And, bagsy I'm Fred."
"And I thought that you couldn't get any pettier!" Ianto sighed.
"You know what? Why don't you shut it Scrappy?" He retorted. "Now if you don't mind, I think I'm going to leave the rest of you kids to it, I have some real work to be getting on with. Let me know when you've made a decision!"
"Owen come back here!" Toshiko cried. "You're behaving like a child! There's no need for this!"
"Owen!" Jack ordered him.
But Owen had already left, slamming the door to the boardroom behind him.
"Too late." Gwen sighed.
"Well that went well!" Ianto added.
"He'll come round." Toshiko reassured them. "He'll have to, curiosity will get the better of him. Besides you know Owen, he won't want to think of what we might be getting up to without him."
A few weeks later the team found themselves making their way across a vast stretch of wet and boggy countryside, Owen amongst them. Jack had finally come to a compromise - still not to Owen's approval. Despite this, just as Toshiko had predicted, the thought of what the team may have been getting up to without him had proven too much for the young Doctor, and they had booked a large Villa, suitably out of the way, in a corner of the French countryside.
The weather had proven far from ideal however, and for the first couple of days the team had found themselves distinctly lacking in any of the outside pleasures as advertised in the brochure. No one had been willing to brave the torrential downpours, and thus only fuelled Owen's constant tirade if protests that they should have gone elsewhere - or even better, that he should have stayed at home. Jack, in his reluctance to engage Owen in any further arguments, had started spending more and more of his time alone, absorbed in work and by the beginning of the third day Gwen had suggested a trek across the French countryside may go some way to help clear the air and raise their deflated spirits.
Jack had predictably remained behind, although this had made little difference to the rest of the team as they set out mid the following morning. The weather had remained pleasantly mild for the most part, although as early afternoon approached dark clouds began to gather on the horizon and Owen had made the decision to turn back, closely followed by the rest of them when they found themselves suddenly caught in a heavy downpour.
"Brilliant!" Owen groaned, as they were forced to wade their way through the churned grass and mud, ankle deep in think clay where the rain had soaked into the soft ground. "Well, you know what they say, it never rains… except when I'm around!"
"We're all as wet and cold as each other Owen!" Gwen snapped. "Just drop it will you!"
The rain seemed to do little to dampen Toshiko and Ianto's spirits however and the two seemed to spend more time laughing at each other's particular misfortunes than complaining. That was until Toshiko happened to misplace her tentative footing and slipped over in a particularly waterlogged stretch of ground. Unable to right herself in time she found herself caked in a mixture of wet clay and soft mud.
As a result by the time the team finally returned to the villa they were well and truly soaked through, dripping wet and shivering. Jack was sitting by the fire when they entered, and he greeted them with a characteristically lavish smile as they walked through the door.
"Nice trek?" He asked them.
Gwen simply groaned as she tried to prise her heavy coat away from her chapped and smarting skin. "What I wouldn't give for a hot shower!" She sighed.
"I think I'll join you." Toshiko agreed.
"You certainly need it more than me." Gwen smiled sympathetically. "Go on, you go first."
"Thanks." Toshiko smiled gratefully as she made her way, with some difficulty, upstairs. All three were heavily weighed down by their water-logged, mud caked clothing as they followed suite. The damp material stung their skin as water and mud began to dry in equal measure, weighing down their aching limbs as they climbed.
"So, how was it?" Jack asked them, when his team finally rejoined him, all showered and each darning a fresh change of dry clothes. It had taken them all about half an hour to wash the chill out of their aching bones, and although evidently amused by the situation he had at least made the effort to put the kettle on, and had made four warming cups of coffee for them all. Gwen, Ianto and Toshiko accepted their drinks gratefully, but Owen was a little less gracious.
"It's pissing Niagara falls out there!" He snapped, rubbing at his hair vigorously with quite a large towel as he shook the last droplets of water from his dark locks. "What do you think?"
"Ask a civil question…" Jack teased, raising his hands in a mock gesture of surrender. "Besides, it was only a little mud." He added with a smile.
"A little?" Gwen exclaimed, looking up from her mug of hot, steaming liquid. "Well I didn't see you braving the weather this morning? If it really was 'just a bit of mud' why didn't you join us?"
"I have better things to do with my time." Jack shrugged. "And besides," He added, with a meaningful glance at Owen as he spoke, "somebody had to remain behind to keep an eye on Janet… we don't want her getting free and trashing the place now. We're lucky the French aren't as familiar with Torchwood as most are back home."
"Well, if I'd wanted to get pissed on I could have stayed there!" Owen argued.
Jack laughed. "I didn't know you were made of sugar paper Owen. Had I have known you would melt…"
"Oh, piss off Jack." Owen growled.
It was a few hours later, when the young Doctor's tempers had somewhat cooled, that the team finally came up with a plan to wreak revenge on their Captain. The weather had failed to improve as the day had worn on, and the team had decided to remain inside – basking blissfully in the warmth of the burning fireside.
Jack's mood had declined since that morning however, and he had taken to pacing the many rooms and long corridors of the Villa, rarely condescending to socialise with the rest of his team as the day wore on.
"What do you think is wrong with him?" Toshiko had asked, concerned.
"He's bored." Gwen had told her with a lazy sigh. "Best leave him to it for the while." She thought, listening to the sound of her Captain's impatient footsteps resounding on the floorboards of the room above. "Better to let him work it out of his system in his own way."
Owen had smiled, "Actually I think I may have a better idea." He'd said, and had proceeded to explain what he had in mind.
"Hey!" Jack protested fiercely as he suddenly found himself at the mercy of his unsparing team, as they each took a hold of him; Owen and Gwen by the arms, Toshiko from behind as Ianto threw open the front door. There wasban apologetic look in his eyes. He had initially considered it a worthy suggestion of Owen's when he had implied that in his opinion as a medical professional a long walk in the fresh air may go a long way to curing the Captain's apparent claustrophobia - now that they were going through with it however he didn't seem so sure.
As he felt the chill breeze from outside upon his face, the image of the heavy downpour through the open doorway looming nearer, his feet started to slide on the slippery marble floor in his attempt to secure a steady footing and fight back.
He had been preparing to leave when they had crept up behind him. Four against one, and even with Jack's strength and agility he hadn't stood a chance against them! There was no doubting, he had trained them well.
"Let me go!" He ordered in one last ditch attempt at reason.
"What's the matter Jack?" Gwen laughed, getting a little carried away in the moment. "Like you said, it's only a little mud."
"Don't worry, you won't melt!" Toshiko added, giggling in his ear .
"I'm sorry sir," Ianto hastened to input, averting his eyes away from Jack as the captain was pushed past him. He didn't seem to want to look him in the eye. "It was Owen's idea."
"Hang on!" Gwen suddenly cried, as she released her grip on her Jack's arm, but the man had no time to respond as he suddenly felt himself slipping from his team's grasp. His natural instincts to want to protect himself against harm kicked in immediately, and he threw his arms out in front of him as he anticipated the inevitable fall. He felt himself falling before he even had a chance to steady himself, nearly coming to rest face down in a fowl and mud choked puddle. He let out a strangled 'umph' sound as he hit the floor, and he felt the icy water chill him to the bone.
"I said hang on!" Gwen snapped, as she immediately went to help Jack up. "Are you alright Jack?" She asked him, concerned.
"Unbelievable..." Owen sighed. "I knew you would... you chickened out... I don't believe you Gwen!"
"Fine!" Jack growled at her as he struggled to his feet. Gwen held out her hand for him to take but he dismissed it.
"We're sorry Jack…" Toshiko too faltered, as she started to approach his side. Her smile had faded now as her eyes melted with concern. "It was Owen's idea… I guess we just got a little carried away."
"Oh sure, blame me!" Owen muttered.
"Well, it was!" Ianto pointed out - he'd never beenntoo enthralled with the plan, and had only followed through with the role he'd played reluctantly.
Gwen and Toshiko had both positioned themselves either side of Jack as they helped him back on his feet.
"Tell you what Jack," Gwen smiled, as he again shook off their assistance and struggled to right himself. "Why don't you go take a shower… it really helps, trust me, or perhaps you could still go for that walk… we'll get everything ready for you for when you get back?"
"No," Jack shook his head. He still sounded angry although his tone had softened slightly as the initial shock started to wear off. "I'm right off the idea now, believe it or not."
"How about just the shower then?" Ianto asked him.
"Just the shower will do me fine." He nodded.
The team began to make their way back inside, but as they did the lights in the hallway suddenly started to flicker as they closed the door behind them, before going out – plunging them all into semi-darkness.
"What's going on?" Toshiko asked.
"It's another bloody power cut!" Ianto groaned.
"SHIT!" Owen growled through gritted teeth, tone ripe with the frustration felt by all… although it was Jack for whom the team felt most for. He had already started to shiver and it looked as though he wasn't going to get that shower after all.
"Sorry Jack." Gwen apologised again. She couldn't help but feel guilty, thinking that if it wasn't for their childish prank he'd at least be dry.
"Brilliant." Jack sighed.