Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen.
Summary: The day started out close to perfect; Ianto should have known that wouldn’t last.
Word Count: 1610
Content Notes: None necessary.
Written For: Challenge 113: Flat at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Ianto should have known it was going to be one of those days, the kind where you ended up wishing you hadn’t bothered to get out of bed in the first place, but it had started out so well. Of course, that was when a person most needed to be on their guard, because nothing that perfect was ever going to last, and it was a bad idea to let yourself get lulled into a false sense of security.
It really wasn’t fair though; he’d woken to bright sunshine and blue skies after the best night’s sleep he’d had in weeks, all the lights on his way in to the Hub had turned green as he’d approached them, and all the Hub’s residents, Jack included, had been on their best behaviour. The rest of the team had arrived on time and got on with their work without complaint, and Owen had even thanked him when he’d handed around the day’s first coffee. The whole morning had been like that. There’d been no arguments over lunch, everyone had finished their reports without having to be reminded, and Ianto had just come back up to the main Hub after filing them when the Rift alarms had gone off.
Not even that had put a dent in his good mood; the coordinates for the Rift spike were out in the countryside, a few miles beyond Newport, and on such a gloriously sunny day, what could be nicer than a relaxing drive in the country?
So off they’d gone, the whole team together because there was nothing else going on and it would be fun, right?
The bickering had started before they’d even got halfway, with Owen moaning about the weird country smells wafting in through the SUV’s open windows and wondering why he had to come anyway, and Tosh telling him to shut up and not spoil it for everyone else. “Why do you always have to complain about everything?”
“I don’t. I just don’t see the point of all of us going on a simple retrieval.”
“Then why didn’t you stay behind if you didn’t want to come?” Gwen wanted to know.
“Didn’t have anything better to do, did I?”
“So you just decided to inflict yourself on the rest of us because you were bored?” Ianto twisted in his seat to frown at the medic in the back.
“Yeah, why not?”
“You’re such a bastard, Owen,” Gwen reached across Tosh, who was sitting in the middle, and gave Owen a shove.
“Cut it out back there if you don’t want to be left at the side of the road!” Jack snapped from the driver’s seat. That shut them up, but Ianto’s happy mood was beginning to falter. It wasn’t helped when they arrived at their destination to find whatever had been dropped by the Rift was most likely somewhere deep in a viciously thorny bramble thicket.
“Oh, this is going to fun,” he muttered sarcastically, suddenly wishing he had pruning shears to cut his way through. No such luck of course; they weren’t exactly standard Torchwood kit. Maybe they should be.
By the time the team finally located what they’d come for, something that appeared to be a small sculpture, almost certainly alien since most humans wouldn’t want to display a squarish blob with eight arms, and four eyes on stalks, they were all scratched to glory, picking thorns out of their hands and arms.
“Right, I’ve had enough ‘fun’ for one day,” Owen said sourly. “Let’s sling that thing in the boot and go home.” He stalked off through the woods towards where they’d left the SUV and the others didn’t argue, just followed him without a word, all more than ready to leave the brambles behind as soon as they possibly could.
Jack had driven the SUV as far as possible along a narrow track before they’d been forced to abandon it and walk the rest of the way, but now they were faced with a bit of a problem; there was no space for turning around so he’d have no choice but to reverse out, and that wasn’t going to be easy.
“Owen, get behind and direct me out,” Jack ordered.
“Why do I have to do it?”
“Because you’re the one who’s been complaining all afternoon. Just do it, alright?”
“Fine, but only because I want to get home.”
“We all do,” Tosh snapped. “You’re not the only one who’s scratched and sore; we’re all in the same state, so just shut up and make yourself useful for once!” It wasn’t often that she lost her temper, but even she’d had more than enough of Owen’s whining.
She, Gwen, and Ianto climbed into their seats as Jack started the SUV’s engine and slowly began to reverse, listening to Owen’s instructions over his Bluetooth earpiece. When they got about a third of the way along the track, to where it widened out a bit, without encountering any problems, everyone started to relax; things were looking up, they’d be on their way back to the Hub in no time.
“Right, you should be able to turn around now.” Owen scrambled into the backseat and buckled his seatbelt. Jack swung the wheel, reversing over to one side of the track, preparing to turn, when there was a loud bang, the SUV lurched, and the rear of it gradually tipped to one side.
“Now what?” Ianto asked, rolling his eyes as he opened the front passenger door and slid out to take a look. Returning a moment later, he leant in again, a gloomy expression on his face.
“What was it?” Jack asked; he was already expecting the worst so Ianto’s reply only served to confirm his fears.
“Looks like we ran over a broken bottle; we’ve got a puncture.”
“Let me guess; flat tyre?”
“Not quite, but it’s getting there. You’ll have to finish turning with it as it is, but once we get to some clearer ground we’ll have to change the wheel.”
“Okay, you’d better move out of the way.”
Ianto got well clear so Jack could complete his three-point turn and drive a bit further along the track, then everyone piled out again to look at the left rear tyre, which was definitely flat now.
“I hope someone knows how to change a tyre.” Owen kicked at it, annoyed.
“Thankfully, yes,” Ianto replied, taking off his jacket and rolling up his shirtsleeves while Jack fetched the spare wheel and the jack from the boot. “Tosh, when are you going to invent self-repairing and re-inflating tyres?” Ianto asked. “You could patent the design and make a fortune.”
“Hm, good idea; I’ll have to look into that. Need a hand?”
“No thanks, I think Jack and I can manage. It’s not as if we’ve never had to do this before.”
Jack slid the jack into place and ratcheted the car up as Ianto started loosening the lug nuts.
They worked well together, and within five minutes they were swapping the flat for the spare wheel. Another five minutes and the SUV was back on four wheels as Ianto tightened the nuts again.
“See? Nothing to it,” he told Owen. “I can’t believe you don’t know how to change a wheel.”
“That’s what roadside assistance is for.”
“Alright, people, back in and let’s get going,” Jack said, stowing the flat and the jack back in the boot and slamming it shut before making his way to the driver’s side. “We’ll be home before you know it.”
Famous last words; naturally, with the way their luck was going, it was never going to be that easy.
Back on the road, they made it about two miles before the SUV started listing to the right. Jack and Ianto exchanged a pained look. “I have a feeling our situation is about to take a turn for the worse,” Ianto said. “There should be a lay-by just up ahead, maybe half a mile. Better pull in there.”
“Let’s hope we can make it that far,” Jack muttered.
“What’s wrong?” Gwen asked from the back.
“Oh, nothing much. Seems like we might have damaged both rear tyres back there and now the other one’s going flat,” Ianto said in a resigned voice. As if to prove his point, moments later the rear of the SUV tilted further to the right and there was a horrible metallic grinding sound as the wheel rim came into contact with the tarmac.
Jack spotted the lay-by up ahead and coaxed the vehicle the last hundred yards or so, the scraping noise setting all their teeth on edge. It was a relief to pull in and stop. He turned off the engine and rested his head on the steering wheel. “I officially hate today.”
Ianto patted his back consolingly. “Don’t take it so hard Jack, you’re not the only one. I’ll call for a tow truck, shall I?” He pulled out his phone and made the call, relieved that at least they weren’t so far from civilisation that he couldn’t get a signal. After that, all they could do was sit and wait.
Two flat tyres in the space of twenty-five minutes; it was just their luck. Ianto heaved a heavy sigh; yes, he should have known when he got up that it would turn out to be one of those days. Everything had been going much too well not to end in complete disaster. Now he was going to spend the rest of the day wondering what else would go wrong, because it was a safe bet the fickle hand of fate wasn’t done with them yet.