Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen.
Summary: One Halloween, Ianto is flummoxed when it turns foggy in a very unexpected place.
Word Count: 1075
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Jack/Ianto, An unnatural fog,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Ianto scooped up the pile of completed reports from Jack’s outbox; filing them was the last job he needed to do before leaving for the night and he was in a bit of a hurry. It was already almost three-thirty and he wanted to be home and dressed in his Halloween costume before the Trick or Treaters started coming around, which they would do as soon as it got dark enough out, probably a bit after five.
An hour and a half wasn’t a lot of time, but he had everything planned; it shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes to do the filing, another fifteen to get home and maybe ten to get changed. That would still give him ample time to get the decorations set out around his front door, turn on all the Halloween lights, empty the treats he’d bought into a bowl, and even make himself a fortifying mug of coffee before the little monsters descended on him. There was a lot to be said for being well organised
Famous last words; he probably should’ve known it wouldn’t be that simple.
As he came out of the stairwell on the top archive level, he noticed immediately that something wasn’t as it should be, and he was suddenly grateful to still be wearing his bluetooth earpiece, which he’d left in after going on a retrieval with Jack earlier so they could discuss the coming evening while getting on with their work. The little devices could be handy for more than just Torchwood business.
Reaching up to his ear, Ianto clicked the comm. unit on. “Jack?”
“What’s up, forget something?”
“No, I’m down in the archives and… it’s foggy.”
“There’s fog in the archives.”
“Okay, now that’s not normal. Stay where you are, I’m on my way.”
“You’d better bring a couple of torches, visibility is pretty bad already, and getting worse.”
Ianto could hear rustling noises, and then Jack’s voice, muttering, “Aha, got you,” followed by the slamming of a drawer. He smiled slightly, then frowned as he looked about. The fog was rapidly getting thicker, and it made the familiar archives somehow eerie and sinister, like anything could be lurking in the billowing vapour, waiting to leap out at him.
“Where are you?” The voice in his ear made him almost jump out of his skin, but he quickly pulled himself together. No good getting spooked.
“Just to the right of the stairs.”
“Almost with you. Wow, I see what you mean, haven’t seen fog this thick in years, and never indoors.”
“Safe to say it’s not any kind of natural phenomenon,” Ianto replied. A figure loomed out of the fog on his left and Ianto breathed out a sigh of relief as he saw it was Jack.
“Here.” Jack handed him a torch and his handgun. “Just in case we need to defend ourselves.”
“So, which way?”
Ianto pointed to the right. “That’s the direction the fog seemed to be coming from when I got down here. It was nowhere near this thick though. My office is a few steps that way so I’ll put these files on my desk before we investigate. If I just leave them on the floor, one of us is bound to trip over them.”
They fumbled their way through the fog to the area Ianto used as his office, leaving the stack of manila folders there and exiting through a gap in the wall leading further into the vast warren of rooms that constituted Torchwood’s archives. If anything, the fog was even thicker here, and their torches did little more than illuminate the swirling whiteness and give a bit of advance warning of obstacles in their path, like walls and shelves. Normally Ianto knew the archives like the back of his hand, but now they were unrecognisable and he wasn’t at all sure he could find his way back. Still, Torchwood agents are known for their bravery in the face of all kinds of horrific things, and he wasn’t going to be put off by a bit of indoor fog.
When Ianto heard a quiet ‘plink’, he realised it was a sound he’d been hearing ever since Jack joined him. “What was that noise?”
“Paperclip,” Jack replied from beside him.
“I’m leaving a trail so we can find our way back. They’re the red ones we got last time we went to the office supply store.”
“I remember.” Jack had talked him into buying a box of a thousand large red paperclips, because they were cool. Suddenly Ianto was glad he hadn’t said no. “Clever, they should show up by torchlight.”
“That’s what I thought.” Jack beamed proudly at his own ingenuity.
They continued on, with only the occasional quiet plink every few steps to break the eerie silence, until they rounded a corner in the twisting passageways and reached the source of the unnatural fog. Ianto stopped dead, hands on his hips. “Dry ice?” he exclaimed. “What the fuck?”
“Gotcha!” a familiar voice exulted, and Ianto spun around, gun aimed. “Hey! Easy there, Teaboy!”
“Owen, are you insane?”
“Trick or treat?” Owen raised his hands in surrender. “It’s Halloween, just thought I’d get you back for the prank you played on me last year with the eyeballs. I wasn’t expecting quite this much fog though, might’ve made a slight miscalculation with the amount of dry ice, but what the Hell… It’s only once a year.”
Ianto shoved his gun in his waistband and shook his head, smiling grudgingly. “Okay, yeah, it was a good prank. You really had us going. But if I don’t hurry, I won’t be home in time for the local Trick or Treaters. Let’s get out of here, your ‘fog’ should be gone by morning.”
“Yeah, about that…” Owen grimaced. “With all the fog down here I have no idea which way the stairs are.”
“Not to worry; Jack left a trail of paperclips for us to follow.”
“Giant red ones,” Jack grinned.
Owen shook his head. “I don’t even wanna know!”
Laughing, Ianto set off along the passageway, torch aimed at the floor, following the paperclip trail back to the main Hub, Jack and Owen tagging along behind him. He’d pick up all the paperclips in the morning; there wasn’t time right now. And he would also have to think up an even better prank to play on Owen next year.