Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, Gwen, Surprise Guests.
Summary: There’s something odd going on in the abandoned house on the outskirts of Cardiff…
Word Count: 1470
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, The lights are on, but nobody's home,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
The old house on the outskirts of Cardiff had been empty for as long as anybody could remember. As is always the case with any such house, it was rumoured to be haunted, so most people gave it a wide berth.
It was set back from the road on a fair sized piece of land that had probably been a nice garden once upon a time, perhaps around the turn of the previous century. Sadly, now is was merely a wilderness of brambles, ivy, overgrown shrubs, and at this time of year, bindweed, the white trumpets of its flowers showing up almost eerily in the dusk.
Thanks to its reputation, only the very bravest of the local children dared to venture into the overgrown garden, never mind the house itself. No one but the occasional stray cat had been further inside than the front hallway for at least twenty years.
Torchwood had never bothered to investigate the rumours surrounding the rundown manor, because ghosts didn’t really fall under their jurisdiction, but that had now changed.
“You’re sure this is where the signal’s coming from?” Gwen asked Tosh, sounding more than a little nervous.
“Quite sure. Why?”
“I’ve heard about this place, everyone has. It’s supposed to be haunted by the people who used to live there. The story goes that one night, after a party, the guests went home and during the night, someone murdered the whole family, parents, grandparents, six children, and even the servants. Just ripped them apart. They were found the following day when the pastor came over to find out why none of them had come to church. He claimed demons must have been responsible, and that the house was cursed by evil spirits.”
“I love a good creepy ghost story as much as the next man,” Jack said, “but the reality is probably more prosaic, if not more down-to-earth. Probably one or more Weevils got in through the cellars and killed the family. It’s tragic really.”
“Whatever the truth might be about what happened back then,” Ianto broke in, staring up the overgrown driveway to the looming bulk of the house, “something is definitely going on in there now.”
“What d’you mean?” asked Jack.
“See for yourself.” Ianto pointed. “The place is supposedly empty, right?”
“Yeah, nobody ever goes there,” Gwen agreed.
“So why are there lights on if nobody’s home?”
Sure enough, although the ground floor was dark and brooding, there was faint light visible through several of the broken, boarded over windows on the first floor.
“Okay, now that is creepy!” Owen sounded a bit nervous now too.
“I’m guessing the first floor is where our mysterious signal is coming from, right?” Jack looked questioningly at Tosh.
She nodded. “First floor, towards the back of the house.”
“Okay kids; let’s go ghost-hunting!”
“Do you ‘ave to sound so enthusiastic and happy about it?” Owen griped.
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” Jack teased.
“It’s been sidelined by my sense of self-preservation,” Owen replied, reluctantly starting after Jack and Ianto, who were already forging ahead, Ianto clearing a path for them by snipping off branches and brambles with a pair of secateurs he’d pulled from his pocket.
Jack glanced disappointedly at Ianto’s choice of tool. “Wouldn’t a machete be a more traditional implement for hacking your way through a jungle?”
“Of course, Sir. Unfortunately Wilko’s didn’t have any, quite shocking for a hardware store, so we’ll have to make do with these,” Ianto explained, brandishing his secateurs and snipping away industriously as the rest of the team followed him in single file.
In a surprisingly short time, they arrived at the wide steps leading up to the front door, which amazingly enough was still standing.
“Now what?” asked Gwen.
“Should’ve bought a sledgehammer when you were in Wilko’s,” Owen joked to Ianto. “Then we could’ve just smashed our way in.”
Abruptly, the door swung open with a loud and grating creak of rusty hinges, and Ianto glanced back over his shoulder. “Or I could just try the doorknob. After you, Sir.” He gestured for Jack to enter ahead of him.
“Why do I have to go first?” Jack frowned.
“I would think that’s obvious; you’re our leader, therefore it’s your job to lead. Besides; age before beauty.” Ianto winked.
Jack pouted at his lover. “I’m beautiful too!” But he obediently stepped across the threshold, turning on his powerful Torchwood issue flashlight and casting the beam around.
“Okay, Owen, Gwen, do a complete sweep of this floor, make sure there’s nothing down here that shouldn’t be, but stick together. Ianto and Tosh, with me.” Jack started towards the stairs, Tosh and Ianto falling in behind him. The staircase was stone and quite solid, but they still kept close to the wall, away from the crumbling wooden banisters.
Watching from the hall, Owen shook his head. “Rather them than me!” Then he turned away, gun in hand, leading Gwen on their own search.
Up on the first floor, Tosh directed her group towards the back of the house and the strange signal she’d been picking up for the past couple of hours. “It’s coming from in there.” She pointed towards a door on the left of the corridor.
Jack raised his Webley and Ianto drew his automatic. Positioning themselves to either side of the doorway, with Tosh behind Jack, her own gun drawn, Ianto reached out, turned the handle, and shoved the door open as Jack directed his torch beam into the dimly-lit room.
No one was there, but several small lamps sat around on various surprisingly clean surfaces, flickering with what looked like candlelight but wasn’t. In the centre of the room, on a floor that seemed to have been swept clean by a strong wind, stood a package tied with ribbon, a seemingly blank label attached to it.
Jack sighed, leading the way into the room as he holstered his gun. He crouched down by the package and lifted the label. “Psychic paper? Being a bit melodramatic, aren’t you Doctor?”
“What’s Halloween without a haunted house?” a cheerful voice said from behind them, and they spun around to see the Doctor’s lanky form leaning in the doorway, hands in pockets. “Happy Halloween, Torchwood!”
“You’re two months early,” Ianto said with a smile.
“Am I?” The Doctor pulled a complicated-looking fob watch out of a pocket, frowned at it, and gave it a good shake. “Stupid Aldebaran timepieces. I knew I should have bought Swiss. Oh well, we’ll just have to have an early party. No point wasting the sausages and smores.” He beamed at them and bounced on his heels. “Well aren’t you going to open your gift, Jack?”
Jack reached forward, tugged at the ribbon, and the wrapping fell away to reveal an odd-looking piece of machinery. “What is it?”
“Sort of like an alien fondue set,” the Doctor told him. “It’s really very clever, the instructions are in the dish. Come on then, fire it up while I spread out the rest of the food!”
“I should call the rest of my team.” Jack reached for his earpiece.
“No need, they’ll be along in a minute. The Ponds are leading them a merry dance.”
“That’s a bit risky, considering we’re armed.”
“Can’t shoot what you can’t see,” said Amy, practically in Jack’s ear. She turned off the personal camouflage field she was wearing. “Hi, guys! Rory’s right behind the others, they shouldn’t be much longer.”
Sure enough, by the time the food was set out, the fondue set was bubbling merrily, and an artificial campfire was burning in the middle of the floor for them to cook over, they could hear Owen and Gwen on the stairs. “What the fuck’s going on?” Owen asked as he appeared in the doorway.
“You can put your guns away,” Jack said mildly. “We’re among friends. Say hello to the Doctor and Amy.”
“Seriously?” Owen stared at the visitors and shook his head. “You have weird friends, Harkness.” Nevertheless, he and Gwen obediently tucked their guns in their waistbands. “So what’s all this then?” He pointed at the fire and all the food.
“Apparently we’re celebrating Halloween early this year,” Ianto replied. “The Doctor’s watch is running a bit fast.” He gave Rory a wave as he appeared in the doorway. “You must be the other Pond?”
“Sort of, but I answer to Rory.”
Gwen shrieked and almost jumped out of her skin when she realised someone was standing right behind her.
Tosh turned to Ianto. "Looks like you were wrong about nobody being home," she teased her friend.
Ianto shrugged. “I can live with that. Who wants a sausage?”
It might have been an early celebration, but as they tucked into the food and drink they all agreed it was the best Halloween party they’d ever had!