Characters: Ianto, Jack, OCs.
Summary: The Happy Wanderer has developed engine trouble far away from the nearest space dock, and Ianto is worrying about how he’s going to fix it when he doesn’t know the first thing about spaceship engines.
Word Count: 1431
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, “Look on the bright side!”,’ at fic_promptly. Also for Challenge 90: Repair at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC
A/N: Set in my ‘Ghost of a Chance’ ‘Verse.
Fixing things had been one of Ianto’s main duties back at Torchwood Three; as general Support Officer, it had fallen to him to keep all the Hub’s systems and the team’s equipment working the way it should. He could turn his hand to most kinds of repair work, from stitching up Jack’s beloved coat, and on occasion Jack himself, to plumbing and electrical work, carpentry, fixing the SUV, welding, which he’d taken over after Suzie’s death, and even tinkering with the odd alien gadget, usually as Tosh’s assistant.
This, however, was something completely outside of his experience, and way out here he didn’t even have the option of looking up a handy tutorial on youtube. Not that he imagined there’d be all that many tutorials on spaceship maintenance and repair.
“I’ve never fixed a spaceship before!” he exclaimed, frantically leafing through the ship’s operations manual, helpfully printed in Galactic Standard. “I’m not even sure what’s wrong with it so how am I supposed to know where to start?”
“Look on the bright side; at least we were in range of a habitable planet when we started having engine trouble.”
Despite their predicament, Jack was completely unfazed; Ianto was amazed that he could remain so positive under the circumstances. If there was something seriously wrong with their ship they could be stuck here for years, or permanently! It wasn’t like they could call the AA or stick out a thumb and hitch a ride to the nearest garage to fetch assistance.
“Habitable yes, but it’s not inhabited, which means no spaceport, no spaceship mechanics, no spare parts, no tools, no fuel… Fixing the SUV was one thing; if I didn’t have the necessary components I could order them, and if it was a big job I could get it done by a professional. But we’re at the back end of beyond with a broken spaceship and the only living creatures around are…” He frowned at the indigenous species, which seemed curious and had come to take a look at them and their ship. “Space Wombats. Somehow I don’t think they’re going to be much help.”
“Ianto, relax, will you? You’re panicking over nothing! We have plenty of replacement parts aboard, there should be enough to make two new engines from scratch and completely rebuild every system on the ship. Plus we’ve got raw materials and a fully equipped workshop so we can manufacture anything we don’t have. With the distances between planets, every ship carries everything the crews could possibly need to carry out repairs, and it’s not like we’ve got to don spacesuits and go out in the vacuum of space to fix the problem. That’s something you’ll just have to wait to experience.”
“Thank God for small mercies,” Ianto muttered.
Jack ignored him. “Here and now we have a nice, temperate planet with a breathable atmosphere, plenty of food and water onboard, and there’s no reason for us to rush. We can strip down the engine, fix it at a leisurely pace, and then set off again when we’re done.”
Some of the tension went out of Ianto’s shoulders. “You’re right I suppose; we could be a lot worse off than we are,” he admitted reluctantly, although he still looked stressed.
“Of course I’m right.” Jack whipped the manual out of his lover’s hands and tossed it back into the ship.
“Hey! Why’d you do that?”
“We won’t be needing the manual,” Jack said firmly.
“But…” Ianto gestured at the Wanderer. “Broken spaceship!”
“I noticed, but it’ll be fine.” Jack took Ianto’s hands. “You’re acting like I’m expecting you to carry out any repairs all by yourself, when in reality you’re going to be assisting me. In case you’ve forgotten, I’ve been fixing this crate as well as flying her for the past several decades. This isn’t the first time she’s developed a fault, and it won’t be the last.”
“She’s not a crate!” Ianto protested, pulling free of his lover and patting the Happy Wanderer’s pitted hull as if the ship might take offence at Jack’s words. “She’s our home!”
Jack laughed. “Okay, I take that back; she’s not a crate. She’s a good, sturdy, reliable ship with many more years of life left in her. She’s just in need of some minor repairs and her million light year service.”
Ianto rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. “I suppose I am overreacting a bit, aren’t I?” he asked, smiling sheepishly. “It’s just, I’m used to all the repair work being left to me; that’s the way it always wound up being back at the Hub.”
“And you always did an excellent job of fixing everything, but you’re not Torchwood’s GSO anymore; you’re co-owner of an independently run cargo ship, along with one of the most experienced pilots and mechanics in the known universe, namely me. Now stop worrying; I know all the Wanderer’s systems inside out and there’s not a spacecraft built before the middle of the fifty-first century that I can’t fix. Hell, I could probably build one from spare parts given enough time and the right tools!”
“That’s comforting to know. I think.” Ianto shoved his hands in the pockets of his overalls and looked at Jack. “So, what do we do first?”
“Close up the ship and take a walk? We’re most likely the first humans to ever land here; we might as well get the lay of the land, see what there is to see.”
“But what about the repairs?”
“The port engine needs to cool off before we can do anything. We’ll give it an hour or so then come back, open the housing, and see what’s making it overheat. I’m thinking either a burned-out circuit or possibly one of the coupling rods in the cooling system has snapped. Neither of those things is a serious problem, so repairs shouldn’t take more than two or three hours.”
Ianto let out his breath in a long sigh. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”
“It’s not. Of course, the other thing it could be is a busted alternator coil; replacing that would take six to eight hours, depending on whether it’s damaged any other components. That’s less likely though; takes a hell of a lot of punishment to break one of those. Whatever the problem is, while we’re down here, we might as well overhaul both engines, check for worn parts, and replace anything that looks like it needs it. Call it your first lesson in spaceship repair and maintenance. It’s about time you got a chance to take a look at all the working parts, and this is the perfect opportunity; no port fees to pay so no need to rush.”
Ianto nodded agreement; he’d always been interested in how things worked and hated not knowing how to fix necessary equipment. “Alright; that sounds sensible.”
As Jack had expected, the problem turned out to be nothing worse than a broken coupling rod, although it took a bit longer to fix than he’d originally estimated simply because part of it had sheared off completely and the broken section had to be located and retrieved. They couldn’t leave it rattling around in the engine housing, potentially causing more damage. In the end, they spent three surprisingly pleasant days on the planet, thoroughly overhauling both engines under the interested gaze of some thirty or so Space Wombats, taking care that the little animals didn’t steal any tools or engine parts, and that none of them got too close out of curiosity. A Space Wombat stuck in an engine wouldn’t do the ship or the alien any good.
Thankfully, when it came time to take off, the noise of the inertial drive engaging was enough to send the natives scurrying to hide among the bushes and rocks, ensuring that none of them were in danger of injury.
The Happy Wanderer lifted smoothly from the surface of the planet, soaring back out into space as the cargo ship and her crew of two continued their journey to the space station orbiting Caffronia, where Jack was sure they’d be able to pick up a paying cargo as well as replacements for the spare parts they’d used in their repairs.
Smiling contentedly, Ianto relaxed into the co-pilot’s seat, watching Jack’s hands moving over the controls with the sureness of long practice. His first lesson in spaceship repair had gone better than he’d expected, and maybe in time he’d be experienced enough to call himself a reasonably competent space mechanic, but not just yet; he still had a lot to learn.