Characters: Jack, Ianto.
Summary: With Jack’s assistance, Ianto is trying to identify some of the mysterious objects he’s found in the archives.
Word Count: 1394
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 126 – Rattle at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“Is it supposed to rattle like that?” Jack asked, cautiously prodding the thing with the tip of one finger.
“How am I supposed to know?” Ianto replied, a touch exasperated. “I only just found it and I don’t have the faintest clue what it might be, never mind what it is or isn’t supposed to do. I was hoping you might have some ideas.”
Jack shook his head. “Nope, sorry, can’t help you; never seen it before.”
“Really? Then why is the label that was attached to it in your handwriting?”
“Is it?” Jack snatched the tattered label from Ianto’s hand and studied it. “Huh. That’s definitely my writing… oh, wait a minute. That explains it.”
“The date. I ran this place by myself from the first of January 2000 through to almost the end of 2001; I was run off my feet most of the time, so I just logged new arrivals, stuck a label of them, and dumped them down in the archives. I didn’t have the time or resources to investigate anything, except for a few things that looked like they might be dangerous.” Jack gave an apologetic smile. “If you think things get hectic around here now, you should have been here in those days.” He paused, thinking about that for a moment. “Of course, if you had been here back then I imagine things would have been a lot more organised…” He trailed off with a sheepish grin. “I requisitioned a lot of equipment from Torchwood One, but I think I should have requisitioned you instead.”
“I hadn’t been recruited by One back then.”
“Oh. Right, I forgot.”
“Still, your… situation does explain the computer entry on this thing. Under description it says ‘Sort of brown and knobbly’ and under identifying marks, it says ‘Knobbles’.” Ianto’s lips twitched as if he was trying not to laugh.
“I defy you to write a more apt description,” Jack said primly. “Mine is concise and to the point; it’s a sort of brown, knobbly thing.”
“With knobbles,” Ianto added.
“Exactly!” Jack beamed as if he’d made his point.
“What it doesn’t mention,” Ianto pointed out, “is anything about it rattling.”
“Maybe it didn’t rattle back then. It’s been down in the archives for nearly seven years; it could have got broken during that time. Or maybe it did rattle and I just didn’t happen to hear it.”
Either could have been true, so Ianto just shrugged. “Right, we’ll set that one aside for a bit and take a closer look at it later. How about this one?” He took a sparkly pinkish globe out of the box he’d brought up from the archives and set it on Jack’s blotter where it twinkled prettily.
“Oh, now that one I remember!”
“Of course you do. You’re like a magpie when it comes to sparkly things.”
“And it doesn’t just sparkle; it hums too,” Jack said eagerly.
“I do recall something about humming in the computer entry,” Ianto agreed. “It’s not humming now though.”
“Of course not; you have to do this.” Jack picked up the globe, turned it over in his hands to find the right spot, then pressed a finger into an almost invisible indentation. Immediately the globe lit up from inside and started to hum soothingly, producing a kaleidoscopic display of coloured lights that reflected and refracted from every surface, sort of like the sparkles from a disco ball but somehow more relaxing.
Ianto raised an eyebrow as he took it all in. “Nice. So it could be alien party lighting, or possibly a device for hypnosis or brainwashing.”
Jack threw the Welshman a withering look. “If it was the latter I doubt its creator would have made it look so pretty. Clinical devices don’t need to be decorative.”
“Aren’t you the one who’s always telling us that aliens are not humans and we shouldn’t ascribe human values to alien devices?”
“Yes, but do you feel like you’re being hypnotised or brainwashed?” Jack looked up at Ianto, perched in his customary place on the edge of the desk.
“Actually no, I just feel pleasantly relaxed and clear-headed.”
“There you go then. It’s probably a relaxation or meditation aid. Either that or it’s for soothing babies.”
“Maybe. I think Tosh should study it though, just to be sure it hasn’t sent any subliminal messages to our brains. Maybe it’s just programmed us to do something and we won’t even know until we act on our programming.”
Frowning, Jack quickly removed his finger from the device, causing the humming and the lightshow to stop. “I hadn’t thought of that,” he said worriedly.
Ianto shrugged, a lot less concerned than Jack now was. “It probably hasn’t but it’s worth checking it out anyway, for safety’s sake.”
“I guess you’re right. So what else have you got in your box?” Jack craned his neck, trying to peer inside without getting up.
“Just this.” Ianto took out the final item, a large, complicated structure with bits sticking out here and there, each with a differently shaped and textured blob on the end.
Jack broke into a broad grin, reaching out to take it. “I didn’t know we’d got one of these!”
“What is it?” If anything, of the three items he’d brought to Jack’s office this was the one that baffled him the most.
“It’s a universal massager. Each one of these…” Jack pointed to the pieces sticking out, “vibrates in a different manner and at a different speed. They can be removed and replaced, you can get dozens of extra attachments, but this is the basic starter model.” He pressed a couple of points on the body of the device and a small compartment opened in the side. “The energy pack’s depleted but Tosh might be able to figure out a way of recharging it since we don’t have a charger, or not that I know of. If we can get it working you can say goodbye to sore and aching muscles. You won’t know how you ever survived without it!”
“Right, that one goes to Tosh for study as well then. What are we going to do about this?” Ianto picked up the brownish, knobbly, rattling thing again, turning it over and over in his hands.
“Might as well make it three for three and let Tosh take a look at it. Maybe she’ll be able to figure out what it is,” Jack decided. “Give it here.”
Ianto tossed it up and Jack caught it, fumbling it slightly. It rattled, and something in it went click.
Both men froze.
“It couldn’t be a grenade of some sort, could it?” Ianto asked nervously.
Jack opened his mouth to reply, but then a hatch on the flat underside of the object opened and something fell into his lap. “If it is, it’s the strangest kind of grenade I’ve ever come across.” He set it down on his blotter and picked up what had fallen out of it, holding the oddly shaped piece of metal up for Ianto to see.
“Well that’s unexpected. Despite what you’re always telling us, looks like some aliens must have quite a lot in common with humans,” Ianto said. “Just like us, they hide their spare door key in a fake rock, or something of the sort.”
“Another mystery solved,” Jack agreed, picking up the knobbly object and peering inside. “I think the key’s supposed to be held by a sort of clip so it doesn’t move around, but whatever it was made of has perished and fallen apart. That must be why I don’t remember it rattling before.”
“At least now I can catalogue it properly. I suppose not everything that falls through the Rift can be something exciting.”
“Exciting can be overrated; would you rather it had turned out to be a grenade?”
“No, that would be a bit too exciting.”
“Then don’t complain.”
Jack dropped the key back inside its hiding place and slid the small panel until it clicked almost seamlessly back into place. He returned it to Ianto. “Just think; somewhere out in the universe there could be an alien locked out of its house, trying to find a spare key that’s no longer there.”
Ianto smiled. “In future, maybe it should leave its spare key with a neighbour. It would probably be safer.”