Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, OCs.
Summary: Every so often the Rift sends Torchwood something that’s actually useful, but this is the best yet.
Word Count: 975
Written For: Challenge 179: Shrink at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
From the moment he saw it Jack was overjoyed by the thing the Rift had gifted them with this time. Personally, Ianto couldn’t see what all the fuss was about; it was just a slim, vaguely wand-like device with a few controls set into a flat section halfway along it, and a small aperture at each end. He looked at it dubiously, hoping it wasn’t another of Jack’s ‘sex toys’, most of which turned out to be nothing of the sort.
“So, are you planning on enlightening me any time soon?” he asked as he and Jack got back into the SUV, their new find sitting innocuously in a containment box on Jack’s lap.
“It’s a shrinking ray!” Jack beamed at his lover. “Only one of the most amazingly useful devices ever invented.”
Ianto winced. “Well you’d better not point it at me, especially not while I’m driving; I’ve had my fill of being de-sized. Its really not a pleasant experience.”
“Oh, don’t worry, this version only works on inanimate objects. The first ones developed would shrink anything, but the company that made them kept getting sued because parents were shrinking their kids to pocket size to avoid having to pay entrance fees or travel charges for them. Then other people started shrinking their enemies and sealing them in jars, and criminals started shrinking themselves to break into places, so now they’ve been fitted with all manner of failsafes so they don’t work on anything with detectable life-signs.”
“That’s almost a pity; Owen in a jar has a certain appeal, and catching Weevils would be a lot easier if we could shrink them to more manageable dimensions.” Ianto fell silent for a moment, frowning slightly. “To be honest, I can’t see much point in a shrinking ray that doesn’t shrink people.”
“You can’t?” Jack sounded genuinely surprised.
“I gather you can.” Ianto glanced away from the road for a brief moment, gracing Jack with a raised eyebrow. “Care to share your vast knowledge and experience?”
“Okay, how about Weevil hunt? No more having to lug a tranquillised Weevil for miles back to where we left the car…”
Ianto nodded, catching on. “Because you’d have the SUV right with you in your pocket, shrunk to fit.”
“Exactly! No more driving around trying to find a parking space, no more parking tickets… Not only that, but when Tosh moves house next month, we can shrink her furniture, pack it all in one cardboard box, and she can take it all in her car instead of hiring a moving company. Quick, convenient, and no need to worry about anything getting lost of damaged in transit.”
“Tosh would be pleased about that,” Ianto agreed.
“Then there’s the damaged Crevallian cruiser we had to transport to the warehouse in a rented truck a few months back. We can shrink it down, take it to the Hub, put it in one of the empty rooms on level seventeen, re-size it, and I can work on repairing it whenever I have a spare minute instead of facing a thirty-minute drive each way.”
“Alright, yes, I can see how that would be handy. We could store all the spaceships in the lower levels and just un-shrink them when we needed them. Or is there some kind of time limit to how long something can remain shrunk? It wouldn’t do for something to un-shrink itself in a space too small for it to fit”
“That wouldn’t happen; failsafes again, and there aren’t really any set limits, although people are advised to un-shrink their belongings, especially anything mechanical, every two to three-hundred cycles for maintenance, in earth terms every six to eight months or thereabouts.”
“We could do that, set up a schedule and un-shrink them in rotation if we don’t have room to store all of them at their normal dimensions.”
Jack grinned. “See how handy it’ll be?”
“I’m beginning to; in fact… I could shrink the SUV to a quarter size, or even smaller, and clean it in only a few minutes! Think how much time that would save.” A dreamy smile spread across Ianto’s face; perhaps a shrinking ray really would be as useful as Jack seemed to think. “You’re right; it’s brilliant!”
Six weeks later, and the whole team were wondering how they’d ever managed without their shrinking ray. Tosh’s move to her new house had been a piece or cake, one box of furniture and some potted plants in the back seat of her car. All the damaged spacecraft were now installed in the lower levels of the Hub, and the Crevallian cruiser was now in full working order. Jack and Ianto had even taken it on a couple of test flights, shrinking it to fit in the SUV, then driving out to the Beacons with it, returning it to regular size, and boarding it.
The only problem they’d had was one occasion when the shrunken SUV had fallen out of Jack’s pocket during a retrieval. A small boy had found it and taken it home, and after tracking its location Ianto had been faced with trying to get the kid to surrender his new toy, eventually persuading him and his parents to accept a new bicycle in trade for the lost ‘prototype’.
On the whole though, the shrinking ray was a wonderful addition to Torchwood’s toolbox, saving them a great deal of time and effort, not to mention money.
Ianto did still occasionally wish it would work on people though, if only so he could threaten Owen with miniaturisation whenever he was being a pain. He even had a nice large jar all clean and ready with air holes punched in the lid, just in case they ever got hold of one of the old-model shrinking rays. It was a matter of efficiency; it never hurt to be prepared…