Characters: OMCs William, Bobby, Gurjit, Jon, Dai, Jack, Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen, OFC.
Summary: William and his friends come across an injured alien, and what had been a very ordinary Saturday might just change their lives forever.
Word Count: 2208
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 261: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, and for the ‘Any Prompt’ square on my bingo card, using Challenge 104: Kindness. Also for Challenge 14: Reverse Fandom Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. at ficlet_zone, using ‘The Good Samaritan’.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“What the fuck was that?” Bobby swore, shielding his eyes. He and his mates had been on their way to the chippie, cutting across a patch of wasteland where there used to be a block of crummy flats before they were bulldozed when there’d been a flash of golden light so bright it had near enough dazzled them. This early in spring sunglasses weren’t usually needed; it had been overcast and rainy all day, but now Bobby was wishing he’d worn his anyway.
“Camera flash maybe?” Gurjit suggested.
“Who’d want to take pictures around here?”
“Dunno, but some arty farty pro photographer might think it’s cool.”
“Yeah, piles of wet rubble and weeds. They’d call it something like ‘Urban Decay’ and win an award,” Jon joked, then… “Maybe we should try that, I’ve got that camera dad gave me for my birthday last year. We could get famous.”
“Don’t be daft, Jonno. Takes more than just snapping a couple pictures to make it as a photographer,” Bobby sneered.
“Don’t call me that, you know I don’t like it.”
“That wasn’t a camera flash.” William said firmly. “Wasn’t light reflecting off broken glass neither. Come on, guys, looked like it came from over here.” He set off, scrambling over the piles of broken bricks and shattered plaster, looking for… he didn’t know quite what, only that a long time ago, when he was a little kid, he’d seen a flash of light a lot like that just before he’d met a creature he was sure had somehow come from outer space. Maybe the space animal from all those years ago had returned!
It wasn’t the space animal though; this was something else, no bigger than a small child. It had long, stringy green hair, pale blue skin, huge golden eyes, and it was barefoot, dressed in nothing but a torn white robe that was totally unsuited to the cold, wet, windy Welsh weather.
The rest of the gang clustered around William, staring down the slope of rubble at the small being huddled in the dubious shelter provided by part of a wall that was still standing.
“What is it?” Dai asked in a whisper that would have been scarcely audible if he hadn’t been standing so close behind William’s shoulder that he was practically speaking right in his ear.
“It’s an alien,” William replied with utter certainty. “A person from another planet. And it’s injured; look at its leg!” One of the small being’s legs was twisted in a manner that suggested it might be broken. “We have to help it, otherwise it might die!”
“An alien? Are you sure?” Jon asked.
“Does it look human to you? And what about that flash of light?”
“What about it?” Bobby looked at his friend, eyebrows raised.
“That’s how the alien got here, dummy.”
“I know it. I’ve seen a flash of light like that one before, and there was an alien then, too.”
“Like this one?” Gurjit’s eyes went wide. “You’ve seen one of these before?”
“No, last time it was a… sort of an animal, like a big snake but furry.” William smiled, remembering. “I told my mam and dad, but they never believed me, thought I’d made up an imaginary friend to play with.” He turned serious again as he remembered. “My sister got in trouble for letting me wander off by myself; served her right. Come on!” He started down the rubble slope towards the alien. “There’s no one but us here to help her.”
“How d’you know it’s a girl? I mean if it’s an alien… Well, maybe this is what the boy aliens look like,” Jon pointed out.
Bobby snorted with all the condescension of his sixteen years. “Boy alien?”
“You know what I mean,” Jon said, flushing with embarrassment; at thirteen he was the youngest and only allowed to tag along with the others because Bobby was his big brother.
“Don’t make fun of him, Bobby,” William chided. “It’s mean.”
Slithering down the final stretch amid a small avalanche of loose rubble, the gang reached the flattish patch of ground at the bottom and approached the alien, who cowered away from the group of tall, imposing strangers.
William crouched down. “It’s okay, don’t be afraid, we’re not going to hurt you. We want to help. You look cold. Here, take my jacket.” Slipping out of the worn denim garment, he held it out, but the alien didn’t seem to understand, so he half crawled closer and slowly draped the coat around the slender shoulders.
Impossibly, the golden eyes grew larger and brighter as the alien pulled the jacket closer around itself, huddling into its warmth. Its voice was like the chiming of small bells and though they couldn’t understand what it was saying, the impression they got was of gratitude.
Dai crawled up alongside William, the bandage from his sprained wrist in one hand and a couple of flat pieces of wood he’d pulled out of the rubble in the other. “All I could come up with for its leg, but it should do for now.”
“Thought your mam said you should keep your wrist strapped up until the end of the week,” Bobby said. Dai had injured it playing rugby at school.
“Mam would wrap me permanently in cotton wool if she thought she could get away with it,” Dai huffed, rolling his eyes. “Sucks bein’ the only child of a doctor; she’s way overprotective.”
“The lessons in first aid are handy though,” William said, grinning at his friend. Dai had patched up every member of the gang more than once when they’d got into scrapes over the years. With all of them growing up on the same small street in Splott, it felt as if they’d been friends forever.
“I guess so.” Dai reached for the alien’s leg. “This is gonna hurt, I’m sorry, but it’s gotta be done.”
The alien kept still, quivering slightly, although whether from pain, fear, or the cold it was impossible to be sure. She made a single soft gasping sound and squeezed her eyes shut as Dai straightened her leg. Then with William’s help he quickly splinted it. Bright golden eyes opened as soon as the job was done, and the alien spoke again.
“I think she’s saying thank you,” Dai said, grinning up at his friends, then turning back to the alien, he added, “You’re welcome.”
“Now what?” Gurjit said. “I mean we can’t exactly take an alien home with us. If anyone else saw it… Not everyone would be as kind as us.”
“But we can’t just leave it here either,” Jon said. “It needs proper medical care for one thing. The splint’s fine, but doesn’t it need x-rays and a plaster cast and stuff?”
“Can you imagine the doctors’ faces if we took her to the hospital?” Bobby pulled a face. “There’d be panic, she’d probably be locked up and experimented on, like you see on TV. She doesn’t deserve that; she hasn’t done anything wrong.”
“Torchwood,” said William. “That’s who we need.”
“I’ve heard of them; aren’t they special ops or something?” Dai asked.
“That’s the story, but it’s a cover; they deal with aliens.”
“How d’you know that?” Bobby demanded.
“Because I’ve met them before, five years ago at my cousin’s wedding reception. There was an alien then too.”
“The furry snake?” Jon asked curiously.
“No, it was like a big stick insect with too many legs. They said it was an…” William screwed up his face, trying to remember. “An Ynx, that’s what they called it.”
“You’ve met a lot of aliens.” Jon sounded a bit awed.
“Not that many, only three.”
“That’s two more than the rest of us.”
“So how do we get in touch with this Torchwood?” Bobby wanted to know.
“Dunno,” William admitted. “Last time they just showed up; maybe if we wait… They’ve gotta have some way of knowing when there’s aliens about. I mean, it’s their job, right?”
So they waited. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes… Just as they were trying to decide which of them would go in search of Torchwood, several figures appeared, making their way purposefully through the piles of rubble. The one in the lead was a tall man wearing some kind of antique military coat. Just behind him were a man in a suit and a black overcoat, a smaller man in jeans and a leather jacket, and a pretty Asian woman in a purple coat, her dark hair blowing in the wind. William recognised them as Torchwood immediately, although the other woman who’d been with them the last time was not in evidence. He’d never forgotten anything about that evening five years earlier.
Coming to a halt, the leader took in the situation at a glance and spoke in a distinctly American accent. “Well done, boys. We’ll take over now.”
“You won’t hurt her, will you?” Dai asked. The small alien had trusted them and he wasn’t about to just hand her over without some kind of assurance.
The one in the suit spoke then. “You have our word she won’t be harmed. We’ll do our best to help your new friend get home.” Then he spotted William and smiled. “I remember you; five years ago, wedding reception. William, isn’t it?”
“That’s right. I remember you too, Ianto, and Toshiko.” William blushed as he smiled at the woman.
“Yes.” Toshiko smiled back. “You helped us find the Ynx. Looks like you’ve done a wonderful job here too. Thank you.”
“Dai’s the first-aider,” William said, pointing to his friend. “He splinted her leg.”
“And you gave her your jacket; you’d better have that back,” said Ianto. “You’ll need it in this weather.”
“But she’ll get cold!” William protested.
“I’ll carry her,” the leader said. “Inside my coat.”
Ianto nodded. “He will; it’s very roomy.”
“Oh, well in that case…”
Ianto handed William his jacket and gently lifted the alien, tucking her inside his boss’s heavy wool coat, careful not to jostle her injured leg. The American spoke to the alien in her own language, his voice deeper than hers but still sounding like bells, and she perked up, answering him.
“You know her language?” Gurjit’s eyes were round as saucers again.
“A bit, enough to make myself understood. Captain Jack Harkness,” he introduced himself. “This is Ianto Jones, Toshiko Sato, and our medic, Owen Harper.”
“That’s DOCTOR Owen Harper,” the smaller man corrected.
“He’ll fix our friend’s leg up good as new,” the Captain continued as if Harper hadn’t spoken. He fixed the gang with a stern look. “Can we trust you not to tell anyone about any of this? Most people aren’t ready to know that aliens exist. They… react badly.”
“We won’t tell a soul, will we?” William scanned his friends, who all shook their heads, promising to keep quiet.
The Captain nodded, seemingly satisfied. “I’ll hold you to your promises.” As he turned to leave, he smiled the widest, whitest smile William thought he’d ever seen. “You know, you boys have the makings of excellent Torchwood agents. Maybe in a few years’ time…” He trailed off with a wink. “See you around.” With that he strode away, the rest of the team following, all except Ianto, who simply stood looking at them for a long moment. Then he nodded.
“I think Jack’s right; in five or six years, if you’re interested.” He shook hands with each of them in turn, William last of all. “Good seeing you again, William. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we meet again.”
As he turned to go, William spoke. “Ianto?”
He paused. “Yes?”
“About ten years ago… I met an alien out in the Brecon Beacons and we played together. I was only four or five at the time. Did Torchwood ever find a big, green, furry alien snake? I wanted to ask last time, but…”
Ianto smiled. “As a matter of fact, we did.”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, it’s become a valued member of the team. Maybe someday soon you’ll get to meet it again.” With a brief nod, he turned and followed the rest of the team. In a few minutes, they were out of sight.
“Wow,” said Gurjit. “Aliens and Torchwood! What a day!”
“Yeah,” said Jon. “Pity we can’t tell anyone about it.”
“Not like anyone would ever believe us if we did,” his brother said.
William shook his head. “Better we keep it to ourselves anyway, our secret, and who knows? In a few years we could be working for Torchwood.”
They fell silent, considering that idea.
“That would be way cool,” Dai said at last, and the others agreed. “So, weren’t we going to get chips?”
“Yeah, I’m starving,” said Jon.
“You’re always hungry, you little shrimp. Don’t know where you put it all,” Bobby teased his brother.
“You just wait; one day I’ll be taller than you!”
“Dream on, little bro!” Bobby ruffled Jon’s hair.
“Cut it out!” Jon ducked away, trying to smooth his unruly blond mop back into some sort of order.
Laughing, the gang set off again towards the chippie; this was one day none of them would ever forget.