Characters: Ianto, Jack, OCs.
Word Count: 1908
Summary: Several days after breaking his leg, Ianto is finally being discharged from hospital – assuming he and Jack can find the way out.
Written For: Challenge 258: Point at fan_flashworks. Also for the ‘Doorway’ square on my bingo card.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“I hate hospitals!” Ianto grumbled as Jack wheeled him along corridor after corridor, past one doorway after another, all of them identical.
“Nobody likes being in hospital, Ianto,” Jack pointed out, somewhat unhelpfully in Ianto’s opinion. “It’s not a fun place to be.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Jack carried on blithely, as if he hadn’t heard him. Well, maybe he hadn’t. “But look on the bright side; you’re going home today! Isn’t that great?”
“Yes. Or it will be if we can ever find the way out of here.” Sarcasm dripped from Ianto’s voice. “This is why I hate hospitals; where are all the helpful signs telling you exactly where you are and pointing the way to the exit? Have you seen one? Of course not! It’s because they don’t want patients to leave! They want to keep us from escaping.” He frowned as they turned into another corridor. “You’re lost, aren’t you? I swear we’ve been along here before; I recognise that trolley.”
“Um…” Jack’s steady, ground eating stride faltered. “Maybe someone moved it from someplace else?”
Ianto’s shoulders sagged and he gripped the crutches he was holding even tighter. “Well that’s just great! We’ll be trapped here forever, going around in circles until we either lose our minds or starve to death!”
“Don’t be such a drama queen.” Jack spun the wheelchair around. “I must have just taken a wrong turn, that’s all. The lifts have to be around here somewhere.”
“The only lifts we’ve seen in the last half hour were hospital staff only, and I don’t think we were even supposed to be in that section of the hospital, it looked like we were approaching the operating theatres.”
“Look, if it bothers you that much, we’ll ask the next person we see to point the way to the exit.”
“Right, because there are so many people here we could ask. Is this wing even in use?”
Jack stopped at a closed door, pushed it open and poked his head in. The room was empty. “Maybe not. No problem, we’ll just retrace our steps until we find someone. Hospitals have lots of staff; doctors, nurses, orderlies, janitors… it’s only a matter of time before we run into someone.” Jack broke into a jog, pushing Ianto ahead of him.
“We’re likely to run into someone literally, the way you drive,” Ianto said, grabbing one arm of the wheelchair in a white-knuckle grip and gritting his teeth as Jack sped up further. “If you ram me into a wall and put me back on the ward I swear I will kill you with my bare hands!” he ground out.
“Don’t you trust me?”
“At this point? NO!”
“Charming! Fine, I’ll slow down a bit but it’ll take us longer to find our way out.” Jack slowed to a jog again.
“Thank you. As much as I would like to get out of here before the turn of the century, I’d prefer to do so more or less in one piece.”
They backtracked through several corridors, past the doorway to a stairwell that at this point Ianto was almost ready to have a go at descending on his crutches, leg in plaster or not, and finally came out into another corridor where there were people scurrying about. It didn’t look like where they’d started from so maybe that meant they were making progress. Sort of.
“Excuse me,” Ianto shouted since, despite his promise, Jack seemed disinclined to ask for directions. “Can anyone point us in the direction of the lifts?”
“Go that way and turn left,” a nurse said, pointing back over her shoulder as she hurried past them in the opposite direction and through a nearby doorway.
“Thank you!” Ianto shouted at her retreating back. The wheelchair picked up speed again, heading in the indicated direction. Ianto wasn’t sure the nurse’s directions were all that helpful, however. “Turn left where? And did she mean her left or ours?”
“We’ll figure it out as we go,” Jack assured him. “At least now we know there are lifts along here somewhere, and we can keep asking people if we don’t find them by ourselves.”
“Lifts?” Ianto asked the next person they saw, a bit further along the corridor.
The orderly actually stopped. “Lost, are you? Happens to everyone around here. Down the end of the corridor, turn left, through the double doors, then second right. Lifts are halfway down on the right.”
Ianto gave a sigh of relief. “Thank you. We’ve been wandering around trying to leave for the past forty minutes. Why aren’t there any signs?”
“Oh, there are some.” The orderly pointed high up on the wall. “They’re just not where anyone would think to look, and half of them are wrong anyway since the hospital layout was changed when the new wing was added three years ago. Signage wasn’t considered a priority so we’re still waiting.”
“That figures,” Ianto said dryly. “I knew they were trying to keep people from leaving. Just to be certain, which floor is the exit on?”
“You want to get off on B floor, and then there should be signs down there pointing the way to the main entrance, unless they’ve been taken down or covered while the corridor walls are being painted. Good luck.”
So the paintwork was considered more important than signs? Somehow that wasn’t surprising. “Thanks, I think we’re going to need all the luck we can get.”
Jack set off again, pushing Ianto at a more sensible pace this time, in deference to the number of people wandering about, looking as lost as they’d been until a couple of minutes ago. Ianto was feeling a little more optimistic about their chances of escape now; they weren’t out of the metaphorical woods yet, but at last it appeared they might stand a chance of getting there.
They turned left at the end of the corridor, passed through a set of double doors, took the second turning on the right to follow a seemingly endless corridor, and halfway along it Ianto suddenly pointed. “Lifts!”
“Finally!” Jack cheered.
“Don’t get overconfident, Jack; we’re not home free yet. I won’t be happy until we’re out the doorway into the fresh air.”
“It won’t be long now.” Jack pressed all the ‘down’ buttons and they waited impatiently for a lift to arrive, which one did, maybe five minutes later. Rolling Ianto and his wheelchair inside, Jack pressed the button for B floor; the doors closed and the lift descended, stopping on the next floor to let in more passengers, then down two more floors, where they were let out on B floor into an area that smelled strongly of fresh paint.
“That orderly wasn’t joking, was he?” Ianto looked around; there were tarps spread out along the corridor, and workmen in paint-splattered overalls on ladders and scaffolding, putting a fresh coat of depressing beige on the walls. Predictably there were no visible signs pointing the way out. “And here we are at square one again,” he sighed. It wasn’t just the colour of the paintwork making him depressed.
“Ah, but at least now we’re on the correct floor. We’re bound to come across the exit at some point if we just keep looking. Maybe if we follow those people…” Jack set off after the three elderly women who’d been in the lift with them.
Ianto shrugged. “Good an idea as any, I suppose,” he said as Jack wheeled him along the corridor.
After a few minutes, the ladies ahead stopped and looked back at them.
“Excuse me, do you know the way out?”
Ianto groaned. “No, sorry; we were hoping you did; I was discharged over an hour ago and we still haven’t found the exit. I’m starting to think we never will.”
“It’s definitely on this floor though,” Jack put in. “If we keep going this way we’re bound to find it. Follow me!” So saying, he confidently took the lead while Ianto closed his eyes and resigned himself to his fate.
Another ten minutes of walking, and… “Look, we’re almost there!” Jack crowed, triumphant.
Ianto opened his eyes; there was an unassuming set of double doors ahead. “That’s not the main entrance.”
“No,” Jack agreed, “but it does lead outdoors, which is where we want to go.”
That was true; at this point any door to the outside world would do. Glancing around, Ianto saw they were somehow in the eye clinic. Maybe that was appropriate and Jack should get his sight checked while they were there. He was just about to suggest it when somebody spoke behind them.
“Oh, this is wonderful!” one of the ladies they’d been leading exclaimed. “The car park where we left our car is just across the road. Thank you so much!”
“You’re welcome, I’m happy I could help you lovely ladies,” Jack said, turning up the charm and flashing his trademark smile. Never mind that it had been a complete fluke he’d found the door in the first place; he’d still accept all the credit.
“And where is our car parked?” Ianto asked as the ladies scurried away, waving goodbye to them.
“Of course it is,” Ianto sighed. “Now you’ll have to wheel me all the way around the hospital.” He squinted through the doors as they approached. “It’s raining, and I’m not supposed to get my cast wet.”
“Oh. Then I guess we’ll just have to go back and find another way out.” Jack turned the wheelchair around and Ianto actually whimpered. Freedom had been so near and yet so far.
“Can I help you?” a voice said nearby. Ianto twisted in his wheelchair to see a young woman nearby. “You look a bit lost,” she added with a sympathetic smile.
“A bit? More like totally lost,” Ianto admitted. “You wouldn’t happen to know the way to the main entrance, would you?”
“Actually I do, I bring mum here every month so I know the way by heart. Just follow us.”
“Hear that, Ianto? We’re saved!” Jack cried dramatically.
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Weren’t you the one calling me a drama queen a bit back?” he asked.
Jack ignored the question.
Another fifteen minutes of walking, because the young woman’s mother wasn’t very fast, and there was the hospital foyer ahead of them.
“We can’t thank you enough,” Jack exclaimed. “Without your help we’d probably still be going in circles.”
“You’re welcome. Take care now!” The woman and her mother headed towards the hospital’s small café.
“Do you want a drink or something to eat before we leave?” Jack asked Ianto.
“No, just head that way and don’t stop until we’re outside.” Ianto pointed to the wide doorway. “You can park me out of the rain and fetch the car from wherever you left it.”
“Your wish is my command.” Jack steered Ianto towards the automatic doors, through both sets, and outside.
Ianto sucked in deep breaths of the cool air, smelling faintly of traffic fumes rather than the all-pervading disinfectant aromas of the hospital. His heart soared. Free at last! Even though it was a bit chilly he didn’t mind; in a few minutes he’d be in the car and heading home, away from this nightmarish maze of a place. As far as he was concerned, that was all that mattered. Next time he had to come to the hospital, he was bringing a compass and a map!