Characters: Ianto, Jack, Nosy.
Summary: When there’s an electrical problem in the Hub, Jack is certain he can fix it without professional help.
Word Count: 1359
Written For: Challenge 105 – Current at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Ianto had a certain amount of skill as an electrician, in fact he could turn his hand to most minor repairs around the home, or in this case the Hub. For really major work though, he preferred to call in an expert, just to be safe. Better to have to Retcon one person than to have the Hub blow up due to faulty wiring; at least that’s what he told Jack when he explained that there was a problem with the power supply to the archives’ big freight lift.
It was generally only used when something bulky or heavy needed to be transported down to the lower levels for storage; for everything else, it was quicker and simpler to take the stairs because the archive lift was notoriously slow and cranky. Ianto got the feeling that it was the oldest of all the Hub’s electrical equipment and from what he’d seen when he’d been trying to locate the cause of the latest issue, it still had the original wiring from Victorian times. Small wonder that pressing the ‘up’ button now made the lights in the lift car go out.
“There’s no need to get an electrician in,” Jack had said airily after Ianto had explained and demonstrated the problem. “You’re not the only one who knows his way around electronics; I helped install this old girl way back when. I’ll just strip out the car’s old wiring and replace it, no problem. Just leave it to me.”
“Are you sure? It’s a pretty big job for one person.” While Ianto trusted Jack with a lot of things, he couldn’t help feeling dubious about the wisdom of allowing his lover to handle major electrical work on a lift.
“Have a little faith, Ianto; it’s not like I’m an amateur. I can re-wire whole spaceships; compared to that, a Victorian lift is child’s play, especially since I’ve worked on it before.”
“Sorry, you’re right, I shouldn’t doubt your abilities.”
“No, you shouldn’t, but if you’re that worried you can be my assistant. I’ll go and pick up the necessary supplies and, Rift permitting, we can work on it tomorrow.” Taking the SUV because of its big boot, Jack had headed off to a place on the nearby industrial estate that dealt in electrical supplies, picking up the proper cabling and other components, having looked up what he would need on the Hub’s original schematics before he left.
The following day, Ianto shut down the electrics to the old lift, and he and Jack set to work, wearing insulated gloves as a precaution. The wiring was pretty bad and it looked like it would be a bigger job than even Ianto had anticipated. Nevertheless, things seemed to be going well until Jack, unable to get his hand into a small space in order to disconnect the old wiring because his glove was in the way, took it off and thrust his bare hand in.
Standing outside the lift car, Ianto’s eyes went wide with horror as sparks flew and Jack’s body started to jerk and smoke. The power supply was supposed to be off, but apparently there was still a current flowing through at least some if not all of the frayed wiring and Jack was being electrocuted! To make matters worse, sparks were flying around the metal cubicle, which seemed to be conducting the current that was passing through Jack, but because Jack’s hand was wedged in the small gap he’d forced it through, he would need to be pulled clear. Even wearing his insulated gloves, there was no way Ianto could get a good enough hold of Jack without risking getting electrocuted himself. All it would take would be a momentary contact with any part of Jack or the lift. As much as he hated the thought of leaving Jack as he was, there only thing Ianto could think of to do was to shut down power to the whole of the underground complex and hope that would work, but it could only be done via the breakers in the main Hub.
Before he could make a move in that direction, there was a slithering sound and Nosy appeared, drawn to the scene by feeling Ianto’s panic and Jack’s pain over the empathic link that connected them. It made straight for Jack, clearly wanting to help its friend.
“Nosy! No!” Ianto dived to stop the Fluff, not wanting the friendly alien to suffer the same fate as Jack, but Nosy was too fast for him. Darting its head through the open lift door, it grabbed Jack by the ankle in its mouth and started to pull as hard as it could; there was a surprising amount of strength packed into a Fluff.
Ianto fully expected Nosy to be electrocuted, and most likely killed, but to his amazement nothing of the sort happened. All he could think was that something in the alien’s physical makeup must render it immune, or at least give it a far higher tolerance to electrical currents than a human body had. It didn’t so much as twitch as it dragged a singed and smoking Jack clear of the lift before letting go of his ankle and rolling him over with its snout, humming mournfully. It hated its friends getting hurt.
Unsurprisingly, Jack was dead, but now he was no longer on the receiving end of a massive electric shock the singed areas quickly began to heal, and five minutes later he gasped back to life, clinging to Ianto and shuddering. When he’d calmed down a bit Ianto helped him to sit up.
“Oh, being electrocuted is really not a pleasant way to die!”
His heart gradually slowing to its normal rhythm, Ianto gave his lover a shaky smile. “I wouldn’t have thought there were any pleasant ways to die.”
“Technically there aren’t,” Jack agreed, “but some are definitely worse than others.”
Nosy slithered over and laid its head sympathetically on Jack’s lap. Jack was about to pet it, but something made him stop and stare, gaping at the Fluff in disbelief. Nosy looked like a fat bottlebrush; from nose to tail, its long, thick fur was standing on end. “What happened to you?”
The Fluff hummed unconcernedly, clearly none the worse for its electrifying experience.
“It pulled you to safety,” Ianto said quietly. “Seems electricity doesn’t harm Fluffs. I tried to save you myself, but I couldn’t get close enough without getting electrocuted. I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault.” Jack squeezed Ianto’s arm. “I’ll be fine, but you wouldn’t have been if it had happened to you. Anyway, I’m the one who should be apologising; you were right, this is too big a job for us. It’s no good just trying to fix one section of the wiring, the insulation is too corroded; we need to get a professional in, or a whole team of them, and have the entire lift re-wired. The whole thing’s unsafe. I’ll make some calls as soon as I’ve changed, and until the work’s done, no one is to go anywhere near that lift.”
“I’ll lock the access door and tell everyone it’s off limits.”
“Good.” Turning his attention to Nosy, Jack tried to smooth its fluff back down, but it just crackled with static electricity and remained stubbornly standing on end. Reaching up, Jack tentatively patted his hair, but that was already settling back to normal. He rose slowly to his feet. “Right. Come along, young Fluff; I think you deserve a reward for your heroic rescue.” Hand in hand with Ianto, Jack led the way back towards the main Hub, Nosy slinking along behind them. “You know, maybe we should think about adding an experienced electrician to the team. Think of the money we’d save.”
Ianto wasn’t sure whether Jack was serious or not, but either way, it didn’t sound like a bad idea. “Well, we were talking about hiring another field agent anyway, and one who could double as resident electrician might come in handy. I’ll look into that, shall I?”
Jack nodded agreement. “It can wait until tomorrow though. Tonight I think we should work on de-electrifying Nosy.