Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen.
Summary: Ianto usually enjoys running, but sometimes it’s less of a pleasure and more of a necessity.
Word Count: 974
Written For: Prompt 54: Fast at anythingdrabble.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Ianto has always liked to run, feeling the air rushing past him, the muscles in his legs straining, his heart pounding and his lungs burning from the exertion as he pushes himself to go as fast as he can. He’d far rather run for pleasure, or because he’s chasing something, than because he’s the one being chased, but working for Torchwood he’s been both pursuer and pursued more times than he can remember. It’s all part of the job; Torchwood is no spectator sport and getting a good workout several times a week is a given.
There’s a tremendous sense of freedom to be found in running for the right reasons, as opposed to running for your life, which is a whole other ball game.
Two days ago, he and Jack had a footrace on the beach after retrieving a small item that had been sucked through the Rift and dumped there. It turned out to be nothing dangerous, and the good weather had them both in high spirits, so Jack had challenged him to see which of them could get back to the SUV first. They were fairly evenly matched, both being of a similar height, and neither of them could run particularly fast on the uneven, shifting sand, but Ianto had the edge because he wasn’t burdened the way Jack was by a heavy wool coat. Even so, he’d only been a stride or two ahead when he’d slammed his hands down onto the car’s bonnet, yelling triumphantly, “I win!”
He wishes he was back there now, on the beach, with not a care in the world…
Jack is bringing up the rear; Ianto can hear his Captain’s panted breaths over his own laboured breathing as they both strain for a little more speed. He doesn’t dare look over his shoulder to check on his lover though; the grass of this hillside is far from smooth, peppered with lumps and dips and small rocks and it would be only too easy to catch his foot on something and go sprawling, knocking the breath out of himself. All his attention needs to be on where he’s putting his feet.
Owen and Gwen are racing maybe ten metres ahead of him; under normal circumstances he could have easily overtaken them by now, his longer legs allow him to cover more ground with each stride than they can manage, but he’s practically carrying Tosh, who caught her foot in an unseen hole and twisted her ankle before they even reached the base of the hill.
“Faster!” Jack yells from behind, and Ianto tries, Tosh practically hopping alongside him, her teeth gritted against the pain of her injured foot. It would be easier if they were still on level ground, but the steepening upward slope is dragging on him, each stride taking a greater effort than the one before. Looking ahead he can see he’s almost to the top; he estimates only another twenty strides at the most. Gwen vanishes over the crest of the hill, but Owen glances back, pausing, then turning and stumbling back a few metres to help with Tosh, slinging the tech expert’s free arm around his shoulders. Between them they manage to lift her right off the ground; Ianto barely breaks stride. Jack pushes at them from behind, urging them to keep going, don’t stop! As if they would! How much time has passed since they started to run? Ianto isn’t sure, he’s been too busy running to keep count of the seconds but it looks like they’re going to make it to safety in time…
Somewhere behind them in the shallow valley they’ve just left Ianto hears a soft ‘whump’ and the ground trembles, just a little; it’s almost anticlimactic. Then just as the four of them reach the top, an ear-splitting BOOM cracks the air, almost deafening them, and it feels like a massive hand has slapped Ianto right between the shoulder blades, sending him sprawling to roll down the shallower slope on the other side of the ridge. They all end up in a heap at the bottom, with Jack almost landing on top of him.
Flopping onto his back, Ianto lays there panting, getting his breath back; the rest of the team aren’t in any better condition, but as far as he can tell from his prone position they’re all alive and without serious injury.
Explaining away an explosion of that size isn’t going to be easy. Smaller explosions must still be going off if the way the ground seems to be twitching and shuddering beneath him is any indication. It’s a good thing Tosh realised the crashed spaceship was about to explode, otherwise by now there wouldn’t be enough left of any of them to fill a thimble. As it is…
“Everybody okay?” Jack yells, trying to make himself heard over the ringing in everyone’s ears.
“Cuts, bruises, one sprained ankle,” Owen reports, crawling about and quickly checking his teammates. “Nothing
“My scanners aren’t picking up much in the way of radiation,” Tosh adds, pushing herself into a sitting position and picking leaves and grass out of her hair. Ianto vaguely recalls getting showered with dirt and debris as he was rolling down the hill. His suit probably has grass stains too, but on the whole it’s a small price to pay for still being alive.
“Most spaceships don’t use fusion or fission for propulsion; it’s considered too unstable,” Jack says. “They have cleaner ways of producing power so at least we don’t have to worry about radioactive contamination.”
“We got lucky.” Ianto sits up, still breathing hard, and rubs his aching legs; he’s really going to hurt tomorrow. They all are, with the possible exception of Jack, but that’s okay, it could have been a lot worse.
Torchwood will live to fight another day.