Characters: Ianto, Jack, Team, Peep.
Summary: There’s an alien loose in the Hub, no thanks to Jack, and Ianto intends to catch it. How hard can that be?
Word Count: 1520
Written For: Challenge 85: Peek at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
It was early, just after six-thirty in the morning, and after putting the Hub’s systems into daytime mode Ianto was in the kitchen area, making the first coffee of the day for himself and Jack. So far, it had been a perfectly ordinary morning, right up until he heard an odd high-pitched sound.
He frowned, looked around, but couldn’t see anything. He even leant closer to the coffee machine, wondering if the sound had come from there, but it was whirring away just as it always did, without the slightest peep. Shrugging, he went to get the mugs out.
‘Peep. Peep peep.’
There it was again. He shifted his feet on the concrete experimentally, but it wasn’t his shoes squeaking, and it wasn’t the cupboard door. Frowning again, he went back to making the coffee, but every so often…
‘Peep peep peep.’
Ianto shook his head; something weird was going on but he was going to get to the bottom of it if I killed him, and he knew just where to start.
As soon as the coffee was ready, he filled his and Jack’s mugs and took them up to the office. Jack looked up from his laptop, where he was doing something that almost certainly had nothing to do with work.
“Good morning!” Jack greeted him with a beaming smile, which Ianto returned with a smaller one of his own. Just because there was a bit of extra weirdness in the Hub this morning didn’t mean he was any less happy to see his lover.
“Morning.” He passed the striped mug to Jack, their fingers brushing for a few seconds longer than was strictly necessary, and settled on the edge of the desk, sipping from his own mug. “Jack, while I was making the coffee I kept hearing an odd noise.”
Jack looked at him enquiringly. “Oh? What kind of noise?”
“Well, a sort of peeping?”
“Oh,” Jack waved his free hand airily, “don’t worry about that. It’s just Peep.”
“After the sound it makes.” Jack grinned at Ianto over the rim of his mug. “I defy you to come up with a better name for it!”
“What exactly is ‘it’?”
Jack’s grin turned slightly sheepish. “The little alien that caused the Rift alert last night. I caught it easily enough and bought it back here, but then it kinda got away from me.”
Ianto rolled his eyes in that long-suffering way of his. “That happens rather a lot, doesn’t it?”
“What can I say? Aliens can be slippery critters, especially the small ones.”
“And because it gave you the slip, now you’re just letting it run around loose in the Hub?” To Ianto that sounded a bit hazardous for everyone concerned, including the alien considering Myfanwy hadn’t been fed yet.
“Not exactly ‘letting’ it, I just haven’t managed to catch it again yet. It can’t get out of the main Hub though; I’ve made sure all the doors are shut. Besides, there’s no need to worry; it’s not dangerous.”
“You’re sure of that, are you?” Ianto asked dubiously.
“Positive. It’s a Wurnink.”
“Wurnink. They’re sort of small lizardy creatures, maybe six or seven inches long, a bit like mini dragons only they’re blue with six legs, two tails, and no wings. Natives of Oxillium Prime; I spent a few months there once, a long time ago, and there were Wurninks everywhere you looked, peeking out from the bushes, under rocks, holes in walls, house roofs, tree branches… They’re good at climbing. There are no birds on Oxillium Prime, just a lot of Wurninks instead, going peep peep peep all day long.”
“Huh. And what do Wurninks eat?”
“Fruit mostly; sometimes insects.”
“Okay, good. Shouldn’t be too hard to catch it then. I’ll just bait a trap with some fruit and wait for it to get hungry.”
The Wurnink had been somewhere near the kitchen when Ianto had heard it earlier, so that was where he set up the trap, baiting it with a couple of strawberries that had gone a bit squashy. The Wurnink would hopefully be able to smell them and that would attract it; assuming it had a sense of smell and that it would recognise strawberries as being fruit, and therefore edible. That was quite a few assumptions, but Ianto was reasonably optimistic.
When the rest of the team arrived, Ianto explained the situation and they all, including Owen, agreed to try not to make too much noise in case they scared the small creature, and to keep doors closed so it couldn’t escape into the lower levels, where they’d probably never find it again. There wasn’t much chance of it surviving if it got down there anyway due to the lack of food. It would likely starve, and Ianto couldn’t have that.
As the morning passed, the peep peeping continues, but now he knew what to look for Ianto caught sight of the Wurnink several times, spotting it peeking out from under the sofa, from behind a rubbish bin, and from the edge of a catwalk. It seemed curious but unwilling to come out of hiding, and it darted away if anyone approached, which made Ianto wonder how Jack had caught it in the first place. Probably blind luck, not that Jack would ever admit it.
Every so often, Ianto would sneak a quick peek at the trap to see if the Wurnink had been caught yet, but every time it remained as he’d set it up; invitingly open and unoccupied. This was taking longer than he’d expected. Maybe the Wurnink just wasn’t hungry yet.
Lunchtime arrived and the team sat around the coffee table eating the freshly baked and filled rolls Ianto had fetched from their favourite Deli. Going to the kitchen with the empty plates afterwards, Ianto saw the Wurnink peeking out from behind the coffee machine, its little head cocked to one side.
‘Peep?’ it said as he approached.
“If you’re hungry, I put some strawberries over there for you,” Ianto said, pointing in the direction of the trap. A thought occurred to him and he walked over to check it; the strawberries were gone. Somehow, the Wurnink had nabbed them without triggering the trap. He glared at the small blue lizard. “That’s not how the game’s played,” he told it. “You cheated.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“Problems?” Jack asked, bringing his empty mug for a coffee refill.
“Your little lizard friend there isn’t playing ball,” Ianto grumbled, pointing at the coffee machine. “Oh, it’s gone again.”
“Didn’t you say catching it would be easy?” Jack teased.
“I did, but you neglected to tell me how smart Wurninks are. It managed to take the fruit without getting caught.”
“So try again.”
“I intend to; just with a different type of trap this time.” Ianto marched off to where the equipment for capturing and transporting small aliens was kept, selecting a different style of trap and baiting it before leaving it in a different place.
An hour or so later, he heard the clang of the trap closing and practically ran to it, a triumphant smile on his face, but before he even reached it…
He glanced to the side and there was the Wurnink, peeking out from behind the mop bucket. It was licking bits of strawberry from around its mouth. Trudging the rest of the way to the trap, Ianto carefully peeked inside, just in case there were somehow two of the creatures. No such luck; the trap was as empty as before, no Wurnink and no fruit.
“No fair!” Ianto accused the lizard. “This isn’t a game you know, I’m trying to catch you for your own good. I have a nice, big, airy pen waiting for you, with all the comforts of home. Can’t leave you running around loose; what if someone steps on you?”
The Wurnink just said ‘Peep’ and scurried away, leaving Ianto standing there, hands on hips and an aggrieved expression on his face. Aliens were annoying.
That was six months ago. Now as Ianto goes about his work every day he’s accompanied by peeping noises and the familiar sight of a small blue lizard peeking out from unlikely places. Ianto hasn’t given up trying to catch the Wurnink, it’s a matter of pride, but he’s increasingly certain that the creature isn’t going to be caught unless it wants to be, and it’s enjoying the battle of wits far too much to simply give up.
So he continues to bait increasingly elaborate traps, and the Wurnink continues to figure them out, getting the bait without being got. Nevertheless, Ianto can’t spend all his time building a better Wurnink trap; he has other responsibilities too, so most of the time he just sets out saucers of chopped fruit and fresh water for the little menace. As much as it annoys him, he’d never let it starve.
By now, he’s more or less resigned to the fact that Peep the Wurnink is here to stay, and there’s really nothing he can do about it.
Sequel: 'Peep's Progress'