Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, Gwen.
Word Count: 3380
Summary: Once again, a simple accident at Torchwood has bizarre consequences for Ianto. There goes his dignity again.
Written For: Challenge # 203: Pair at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
The first thing Ianto saw when he opened his eyes was a pair of feet. They were very familiar feet too, in big brown boots. Jack’s feet.
“Hello, Jack,” he said, staring at the feet.
“Ianto? Are you alright?” Jack bent over him. He seemed bigger than Ianto remembered.
“Um, not sure. What happened? And have you grown?”
“What happened? Don’t know; I was hoping you could tell me. I was upstairs when I heard a loud crash, and when I got down here, you were just lying there. And no, I haven’t grown, but I think you’ve shrunk.”
“Huh,” Ianto said. “Again? It’s getting to be a habit.”
“Oh my head,” a voice groaned nearby.
Ianto frowned; that had sounded like his voice, but he was sure he hadn’t spoken, and anyway, his head felt fine. Sitting up carefully he looked in the direction his voice had come from, and saw… himself, also sitting up carefully and rubbing his head. “What happened? I think something fell on me,” his other self said.
Reaching out, Ianto tugged at Jack’s trouser leg to get his lover’s attention, and whispered, “Jack, there’s two of me!”
“I can see that,” Jack whispered back.
“But which is the real me? I mean, I feel real, but what if I’m not?” Ianto struggled to his feet, using Jack’s leg to pull himself up by; the top of his head only came to Jack’s hip.
A few yards away, the other Ianto was trying to extricate himself from a pile of boxes, shelves, and other things. He glanced towards the voices and his eyes went wide. “Jack, what happened?” He looked from Jack to the shelves and back again. “Have I been shrunk again?” His eyes drifted lower. “And why are there two of me?”
Ianto gave his counterpart a little wave.
The other Ianto just frowned. “Well don’t just stand there! Help me get these boxes off me!”
“Right. Sorry.” Ianto scurried to help himself, and Jack followed, moving boxes far more easily than the Iantos could, due to his larger size.
“Are you okay?” Jack asked as he shifted the last box, which had been pinning the other Ianto’s right leg to the floor.
“Mostly, but I think I might have sprained my ankle,” the other Ianto said, pulling up his trouser leg and pushing the sock down. The ankle definitely looked puffy, and the skin was darkening with a bruise that looked like it extended several inches up his leg and down into his shoe as well.
“Ouch,” Ianto said, crouching to examine it but not touching. “That looks painful.”
“It is, but we’ve had worse,” the other Ianto replied. He glanced around himself. “What a mess! This is going to take some sorting out. Looks like one of the upper shelves came loose and brought half the others down with it, complete with whatever was on them.”
“I was just thinking that too,” Ianto said. “Maybe I should make a start on sorting things out while you get your ankle seen to.”
“No,” Jack said firmly, before the other Ianto could speak. “You’re both coming upstairs with me while we sort out which of you is the real you, where the other one came from, and why you shrunk.”
“Ah,” said Ianto, “I’m starting to think we both might be the real me, actually.”
Jack looked confused. “What?”
The other Ianto was nodding. “That seems likely. Think about it, Jack. We’re identical right down to our clothes, but we’re only half-sized.”
“I think I might have been split into two,” Ianto finished for his other half. “So now instead of one of me, I’m a matching pair.”
“And it’s still not the weirdest thing to ever happen around here,” the other Ianto added.
“Not by a long shot,” Ianto agreed.
“Oh boy,” Jack said. “A pair of Iantos. I hope you won’t mind if I have Owen check you both out to either confirm or disprove your theory?”
“Of course not,” the two Ianto’s said in unison.
“It’s the only sensible course of action,” Ianto continued.
The other Ianto added, “Once we’re certain I’m both me, we can come back down, tidy up, and see if we can figure out what did this.”
“I’m sure Tosh will be able to figure out a way to undo whatever’s been done,” Ianto said confidently.
His twin smiled. “She always does.”
“Okay, upstairs we go,” Jack said as soon as he could get a word in edgewise. Two Iantos were a lot more talkative than one, which made him wonder if this was Ianto’s normal internal dialogue made audible. Dismissing the thought in favour of more urgent matters, he eyed the injured Ianto. “Can you walk?”
“That’s what I thought you’d say, but the stairs are steep and your legs aren’t as long as they normally are. You,” he pointed to the first Ianto he’d found, “walk ahead of me so I can help if you get into difficulties. I’ll carry your other you.”
“Really, Jack, there’s no need for that,” the other Ianto protested, but Jack ignored him, scooping him up and tucking him under one arm the way he sometimes carried Mica, and shooing the first Ianto in the direction of the stairs.
By the time Jack made it up to the main Hub, he had a Ianto under each arm, and both had stopped protesting because being carried was a lot easier than laboriously trying to climb the stairs under their own steam. What was straightforward at a height of six foot was considerably more complicated at half that, and Ianto had been in serious danger of ruining his suit from crawling up one grubby concrete stair at a time, since the risers proved too high for his short legs to step up; they’d been built with full-sized adults in mind, not children or small people.
“Did you find out what the crash was?” Tosh asked, looking up from her computers as Jack emerged from the stairwell. “Oh!” She stared from one Ianto to the other in confusion.
“Hello, Tosh,” the Iantos said in unison, waving at her.
“Seems there was a bit of an accident down in the archives,” Jack said. “Instead of one normal sized Ianto, now we’ve got a pair of smaller ones.”
“Well that’s different,” Owen smirked, coming up from the autopsy bay. “A matching pair of Teaboy bookends.”
“Up yours, Owen,” the Ianto’s said, both of them giving Owen the finger.
“This is serious, Owen,” Jack snapped. “I need you to work out whether or not they’re both Ianto. Oh, and this one has a sprained ankle,” he added, nodding towards the Ianto tucked under his right arm before heading down the stairs to the autopsy bay. He plonked both Iantos on the table, where they sat with their hands primly folded in their laps.
“Oh, this is going to be so much fun,” Owen said gleefully, rubbing his hands together.
The Iantos looked at each other. “I knew he was going to say that,” they chorused.
Owen ran every test he could come up with. He took blood and hair samples, skin scrapings, and cheek swabs, he weighed and measured both Iantos, ran thorough scans on them, and all the time randomly fired questions at them that only the real Ianto would know the correct answer to. The results of all his tests were definitive.
“They’re both Ianto,” he told Jack. “They’re identical right down to the last chromosome, and exactly the same size and weight. Not only that, but their fingerprints and retinal scans are a perfect match, which doesn’t even happen with identical twins. There’s absolutely no way to tell them apart.”
“Aside from this,” one Ianto pointed out, indicating his bandaged ankle, his foot now minus its shoe.
“Well yeah, but only until it heals,” Owen replied.
“By that time, I’m hoping there’ll only be one of me,” the two Iantos said. They looked at each other, seeming to silently confer, and then the uninjured one continued, “We need to find what divided me into us and reverse it, preferably today, because as long as I stay like this, none of my other clothes are going to fit.”
“I could take you both shopping,” Gwen offered, but the Ianto’s ignored her, continuing with what they were saying as if she hadn’t spoken.
“Not only that,” the injured one said, “but I think it would be a bit difficult to explain this to Rhi, and if I back out of babysitting the kids on Saturday and she has to cancel her anniversary dinner, she’ll kill me.”
“She can be scary,” his twin agreed.
“The first thing we need to do,” said Tosh, taking charge, “is go back to where this happened. Whatever caused you to be split into two must be there somewhere. Once we find it, we can work on figuring out how to reverse the process.”
“Exactly what I… we were thinking,” the Iantos replied. “We could use a hand getting down from here though,” one added.
“And help getting back down the stairs again,” Jack said. “But that’s what you have me for, isn’t it, Ianto?” He looked from one of Ianto to the other one. “Talking to you like this is starting to get confusing. Okay, I’m designating you,” he pointed to the uninjured one, “as Ianto One, because I found you first. You,” he pointed to the injured Ianto, “are Ianto Two. Got it?”
The Iantos rolled their eyes. “Yes, Jack.”
“Good. Let’s get going then.” He scooped them both up, tucking them under his arms again, and started out of the autopsy bay, heading towards the stairs down to the archives.
“This is a bit undignified, don’t you think?” Ianto One asked Ianto Two, peering across Jack.
“I suppose so,” his other half replied, “but it beats trying to walk with a bad ankle. All those stairs… I’d be worried I might fall from top to bottom and that wouldn’t do either of us much good.”
Dashing to her desk, Tosh grabbed her laptop, PDA, and a multi-purpose scanner of her own design, and hurried after her friends.
Once they were back where they’d started, in one of the not yet catalogued sections of the archives, Jack set the pair of Iantos down on the floor and fetched an empty crate for Ianto Two to sit on.
“Thanks, Jack, but shouldn’t I be helping with all this?”
“Clearing everything up is going to take a while,” Ianto One replied. “Best to divide and conquer; Jack and I will sort through the mess and bring any artefacts we find to you and Tosh, then you two can work on the problem of turning us back into one person while Jack and I clean up and see if the shelves are fixable.”
“That’s an eminently practical division of labour,” Ianto Two approved. “Be careful though; it wouldn’t help if you accidentally got yourself turned into two quarter-sized Iantos.”
“Or if we ended up with a pair of Jacks,” Ianto One pointed out.
“Heaven forbid! One is enough.”
“Hey!” Jack said indignantly.
The Iantos winked at each other, then Ianto One joined Jack and they got to work.
It took the pair over an hour to carefully sort through all the jumble of collapsed shelving, broken crates, and miscellaneous objects, stacking the rubbish to one side to be dealt with later. Meanwhile Tosh and Ianto Two examined each of the strange pieces of alien technology that were delivered to their workbench, a makeshift table Jack had set up for them by propping a length of shelving on two of the biggest undamaged crates.
“I recognise this,” Ianto Two said suddenly, indicating an item that Jack had just found. “I was about to start sorting through one of the boxes on the bottom shelf. I’d just opened it and picked this up when the top shelf must have given way and everything crashed down on top of me.”
“So this might be the device we want?” Tosh asked.
“Possibly. Or it could have nothing whatsoever to do with what happened. It might have been one of the things that fell on my head that divided me.”
“Or both,” Ianto One suggested, setting one last peculiar object on the table. “Who’s to say our current condition might not have been caused by the combined effects of more than one device?”
“That’s a scary thought,” Ianto Two said. “If two or more pieces of tech were involved it could take days or even weeks to work out the correct combination, which would mean we’d have to let Gwen take us shopping for clothes.”
Ianto One shuddered. “That doesn’t bear thinking about!”
“I know; she’d make straight for the cutest children’s clothes she could find.”
“Have no fear; if it comes to that, I’ll take you shopping myself,” Jack promised. “Tailor-made suits and half-sized ties, you have my word.”
“Our brave hero,” the Iantos declared, smiling up at him. “Doing your best to save what little is left of our dignity.”
“You’re still my Ianto; nothing’s going to change that.”
“That’s good to know.”
Tosh soon eliminated the piece of tech Ianto had been holding when the shelves collapsed, determining that it was a communications device and was missing its power source, so it couldn’t have been responsible for anything. She continued studying the other items, discarding most of them for various reasons, although Ianto Two made detailed notes on what she said each one was so he could catalogue them properly later.
“Hello, this one’s active!” she said suddenly. It was matt grey, perhaps seven inches tall, squat but roughly egg-shaped, and with a flat base for it to stand on. There was a shallow groove running right around it about halfway up, a curved section of which, maybe half an inch deep and three inches long, formed a sort of window made of a glasslike substance at what Tosh decided was the front. There were two dials at the back, one currently set to ‘2’, the other on 0.5, and a round, black button was set into the top.
“Looks promising,” Ianto Two said with a smile.
“It does, doesn’t it?” Tosh agreed. “Okay, let’s test it on something. This will do.” She picked up a pen and ran a series of scans on it before placing it in front of the device and pressing the button. A beam of light was emitted from the glassy window, bathing the pen, but nothing else happened. “Oh. That’s not exactly encouraging.” Tosh frowned at the device.
“Your pen’s plastic and metal, but I’m not; maybe it only works on predominantly organic things,” Ianto Two suggested.
“Hmm, that’s possible.”
“Try something wooden instead.” Both Jack and Ianto One had stopped what they were doing in order to watch. Tosh accepted the broken pencil Ianto One was holding out to her, scanned it, and made notes on the readings, then placed it before the device and pressed the button. Once again, there was the beam of light, but this time when it faded, Tosh was left with two identical broken pencils, both of them looking to be half their original size.
“Now we’re getting somewhere!” Tosh ran scans on the two small pencils and checked the results against her notes. “Exactly fifty percent their original size, and completely identical down to the molecular level,” she announced. Carefully, she adjusted both of the dials to ‘1’. “Okay, let’s see if this puts the pencil back the way it was before.”
Everyone watched avidly as the button was pressed again, the light flashed out, and where there had been two, now there was once again just a single broken pencil. A further set of scans confirmed all readings exactly matched the original set she’d taken.
“Perfect!” Tosh looked from one Ianto to the other. “Are you ready to be one person again?”
The Iantos looked at each other. “I guess so,” Ianto One said.
“Yes, I suppose, although…”
“I can’t help thinking how much more two of me could get done,” they said together. Grinning at each other, they shook hands. “It was nice meeting me,” One said.
“Likewise. On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for being normal size,” added Two.
“There is. So, I guess that means we’re ready.”
“No, wait a minute!” Ianto Two said suddenly. “Where’s my other shoe?” He sat down and quickly removed the bandage Owen had strapped around his injured ankle. “We need to have everything that was present when we were divided in two, and nothing that wasn’t, or putting us back together might not work properly.”
“Oooh, good point!” said Ianto One. “I should’ve thought of that.”
“Technically speaking, you did,” Two pointed out.
“Here.” Jack held out Ianto Two’s shoe, which he’d dropped in his pocket when Owen had taken it off, so it wouldn’t get lost. “What about all the samples Owen took? Will that make a difference?”
“I wouldn’t think so,” Tosh said. “They were microscopic amounts really, not enough to cause any significant problems, especially as they were taken equally from both of Ianto.”
“Okay then, let’s do this,” the two Iantos said.
Side by side, they turned to face Tosh, who aimed the device at them and pressed the button, allowing the light to wash over them both. It seemed to go on for longer than it had with the pencil. The two Iantos appeared to shimmer and stretch, going blurry in a disorienting manner that made Jack want to look away, but he forced himself to keep watching, and when the light faded, only a single six-foot tall Ianto Jones stood there.
Jack broke into a broad grin. “Well would you look at that? This must be the first time ever that one plus one equals one,” he said as he started forward, going in for a hug, and probably more. He didn’t get the chance though.
“Ow!” Ianto said, sitting down quickly on the nearest crate and pulling off his right shoe. “Looks like my ankle’s still sprained. I’ll get another bandage from Owen once we get back upstairs; this one’s a bit on the short side, but it’ll do for the moment.” He wrapped it around his ankle before pulling his sock back up and replacing his shoe. “Right, I suppose I’d best let Owen prod and poke at me a bit more, just to make certain, but as far as I can tell I’m back to normal and in the singular again. It’s a bit of a shame we couldn’t keep both of me, I would have made an excellent assistant for myself, but being two people would have got too confusing, and only being three feet tall would have caused problems.” He stood up. “I can walk upstairs under my own power this time,” he added, taking a step back as Jack surged towards him.
“I wasn’t going to pick you up,” Jack said, throwing a hurt look towards his lover. “Don’t I even get to welcome you back?”
“I didn’t go anywhere.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Well, alright.” Ianto walked over to Jack and submitted to his lover’s exuberant hug and kiss, but pulled away when Jack’s hands started to wander.
“Time and place, Jack.”
“I was just making sure everything’s where it should be,” Jack said innocently.
“Yes, well, let Owen run his tests first; you can run your own later.” With that, Ianto set off towards the stairs, limping a little on his bad ankle. Jack scurried after him, offering his arm for support, something Ianto accepted gratefully. Tosh, they noticed, had already left.
“So, just another typically Torchwood day in the end,” Ianto said as he and Jack made their way slowly up the long flights of stairs to the main Hub.
“Mm,” Jack agreed. “Having a pair of you could have been interesting, but you were a bit on the short side. I prefer the full-sized version.” He tightened his arm around Ianto’s waist.
“Me too,” Ianto said with a sigh. “Being short is too much like hard work. I’m exactly the height I want to be.”