Characters: Ianto, OCs, Jack.
Summary: With flooding everywhere and the river running high, Ianto carries out a heroic rescue.
Word Count: 1642
Written For: Challenge 176: Drown at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
‘I don’t want to drown!’ Ianto thought as he floundered in the icy water. Heavy rains were causing severe flooding right across Britain, and much of Wales, a rainy country at the best of times, was awash. Several rivers had already burst their banks, leaving countless homes knee deep in water and mud, and turning fields into lakes, while drainage systems were overflowing, making rivers out of roads. People everywhere were being warned to watch out for flash floods, but that wasn’t what had caught Ianto out.
It was stupid really, and he should have known better; he was a strong swimmer, but right now the Taff was running deeper and faster than he’d ever seen it. Floodwaters were beginning to spread out across Bute Park on one side and Pontcanna Fields on the other, but the Rift paid no mind to weather conditions. It did what it did whenever and wherever it wanted, regardless of the difficulties it caused, dumping sundry objects and aliens randomly across the city and the surrounding countryside. A bit of flooding was never going to deter it.
Ianto had come out on this retrieval alone, glad to escape the Hub even just for a little while since it wasn’t currently raining and everything was under control back there. He’d intended to stop off at ASDA on his way back to grab some necessary supplies, but now it was beginning to look like he wouldn’t get there, and worse than that, suppose he just got washed away completely? Jack might never find out what had happened to him…
He shoved that thought out of his head, reminding himself that kind of thing couldn’t happen anymore. He’d show up eventually, no matter what, and then Jack would berate him for being an idiot and everything would be fine. He still didn’t want to drown though. Drowning took time, and drawn-out deaths were never fun.
The Rift retrieval had been straightforward for once; he’d parked just outside the Bowling Club, collected a totally harmless bit of junk from the green, sealing it in a containment box and locking it in the SUV’s boot, then on a whim he’d made his way on foot to Sophia Gardens, where a bridge crossed the river. All he’d intended to do was take a closer look; see how bad things were looking so he could report back to the rest of the team. No one had been out this way in the past few days, and while there were frequent updates on the local news, there wasn’t always anyone available to watch them. On top of their own duties the team were doing their best to assist the Cardiff police wherever they could, even if that just meant stacking sandbags or bailing water. They needed all the help they could get.
What should have been a brief reconnaissance hadn’t quite gone as planned, however, so now here Ianto was in the middle of the Taff, approaching Cardiff Bridge, the Millennium Stadium looming ahead. He was swimming as best he could, trying to cut across the current towards the nearest bank, but he was being carried along so fast, and the river was wider beyond the bridge, which would make reaching the shore even more difficult.
He redoubled his efforts, hampered by his burden. Really he’d had no choice but to shed his coat, kick off his shoes, and jump from the bridge, although if rescue services had to go to the trouble of pulling him out they would probably think otherwise. Well, let them; his conscience would be clear. If there was the slightest chance he could prevent a drowning then he would, although keeping his grip on the terrified, struggling dog with one arm while swimming with the other was proving exhausting.
Past Cardiff Arms Park, coming alongside the Millennium Stadium, and if memory served, the Taff narrowed a bit just along here. If he could only make it to the Fitzhamon Embankment…
There were people on the cycle path and it looked like he’d been spotted. They were shouting and pointing; help was at hand! Ianto kicked harder; nobody was drowning, not today! A rope was thrown, but was swept out of reach by the current, reeled in and thrown again, this time a bit behind him, so it floated towards him, moving a little faster than he was since he was trying to fight the current. It came close and he snatched for it, missed, tried again… Numb fingers closed around it and Ianto tightened his grip.
Then he was being pulled in towards the bank even as the River continued to carry him along. Hands reached towards him and he shoved the dog at them, saw it grasped and pulled to safety. More hands grabbed at his arms, then his belt, hauling him onto the embankment where he flopped face down like a stranded fish, gulping down air as if it was in short supply. His lungs insisted it was, and who was he to argue?
Someone threw their coat over him and he tried to protest that it would get ruined, soaked through and completely useless to its wearer, but he gave up almost immediately in favour of his new favourite pastime, breathing. He could see the dog nearby, being rubbed dry with someone’s sweater; it was panting too, but submitting willingly to the attention so Ianto decided he should probably do the same. Still, he wished it had been a bit more cooperative while the two of them had been in the water; it would have made the swimming a bit easier.
“Don’t worry,” a voice told him reassuringly. “Looks like your dog will be fine.”
“Not mine,” Ianto managed to croak out. “Never saw it before.” Which perhaps wasn’t strictly true; he’d seen it sniffing about on the other side of the river, tearing about chasing gulls moments before it slipped on the muddy bank and plunged into the water. That had been just before he’d jumped in after it. Jack would probably kill him for risking his life trying to save a strange dog. Well, it was Jack’s fault anyway; his unconcern with his own safety was rubbing off on Ianto. Must be an immortality thing.
“You jumped in the river after someone else’s dog?” the voice asked incredulously.
Ianto shrugged, which was a little awkward while lying face down on the ground but he thought it was a pretty good effort, all things considered. “It was drowning.”
Feeling strength returning as his body reverted to its prime condition, Ianto rolled over and sat up, dripping wet and shivering in the brisk wind. He was not looking forward to the half-mile walk along the cycle path back to the SUV, barefoot and without a coat, and he wondered if his coat and shoes were still where he’d left them, on the bridge, or if someone had already come along and nicked them. He felt in his trouser pocket; at least he still had the keys to the SUV. He’d have been in serious trouble if they’d fallen out and wound up at the bottom of the river.
“You should take it easy and wait for the paramedics to check you out,” someone else said as Ianto stumbled to his feet, wavering slightly, his legs not quite recovered from the unplanned swim.
“Can’t; got to get back before someone makes off with my coat and shoes. Should probably take the dog with me, its owner must be worried.” Ianto smiled at the small cluster of people. “Thanks for the rescue; very much appreciated. Hard to swim with a dog under one arm.”
The dog, a wiry-haired mongrel, woofed as if it was agreeing with him. Maybe it was.
“Well, we’re goin’ with you,” one of the group insisted. “Not a good idea to be wanderin’ about by yourself, the state you’re in. Besides, we were goin’ that way anyway.”
There didn’t seem any point in arguing. “Fine with me. I’d welcome the company.”
They must have made quite a sight; four cyclists walking beside their bikes, clustered around a dripping wet and barefoot man, a slightly less wet dog tucked under one arm, plodding along the cycle path. Halfway along, they ran into the dog’s owner, coming the other way carrying Ianto’s coat and shoes. It was hard to say who was more grateful, the dog’s owner for getting her pet back safe and sound, or Ianto, reunited with his coat, and more importantly, his shoes. The cycle path wasn’t exactly gentle on bare feet, even the immortal kind.
Everyone, dog owner included, insisted on seeing Ianto back to his car, which was somewhat embarrassing since it had TORCHWOOD emblazoned in yellow along the edge of its roof. There was no way he could deny that he belonged to the organisation reviled by most of Cardiff.
As he settled into the driver’s seat, fastened his seat belt, and pulled away, heater turned up as high as it would go, Ianto wondered if maybe a few of Cardiff’s residents might look slightly more kindly upon them after this incident. Probably not, five people were too few to change such widely held public opinion.
“Ah well,” he muttered to himself. “Better go face the music.” Jack was going to take one look at him and demand to know what happened, and Ianto would have to tell him because chances were it would be all over the local papers come morning: Man risks life rescuing drowning dog! The press loved that kind of thing.
He shook his head, smiling ruefully. Save the whole of Cardiff from an alien invasion and everyone hates you; save one small dog from drowning and suddenly you’re a hero.
Just goes to show what a funny old world we live in.
Sequel: 'Hero's Welcome'