Characters: Ianto, Jack, Kathy Swanson, OCs.
Word Count: 2679
Summary: While investigating sightings of strange creatures, Jack and Ianto come across something that has nothing to do with aliens.
Written For: Challenge 281: Match at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“It’s black as the inside of a Weevil down here.”
Jack’s voice filtered through a darkness so deep that when he’d first come to fr several long moments Ianto had been left wondering if he’d been struck blind by whatever it was had hit him over the head. Now though… Either Jack had been similarly affected or they were simply somewhere too dark to see, and personally, Ianto favoured the latter explanation. He groaned faintly, realising he had a headache, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise. His brain must still be a bit woolly.
“Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Hang on a minute, I think I should have…”
There was a bit of muffled cursing from Jack, a triumphant “Aha!” followed by a scritching noise, and light blossomed so painfully bright Ianto had to cover his eyes to keep from being dazzled. The sudden brilliance didn’t do his pounding headache any favours either. Then Jack swore colourfully and the light went out.
“Jack?” Ianto tried tentatively.
“Ow! S’okay, just burned my fingers.” From the sound of it, Jack’s burned fingers were now crammed in his mouth. Silence fell again except for quiet sucking noises, and then even those ceased.
The silence and the darkness pressed down on him like a heavy weight. After a few moments Ianto spoke just to hear something other than his own heart pounding in his ears, and the throbbing in his head. “Any idea where we are?”
“Didn’t get the chance to see much,” Jack replied, “but I think it’s a cellar or basement of some kind. Hold on and I’ll try this again.”
Another scritching sound, light bloomed again, and peering between his fingers Ianto could see Jack’s face eerily illuminated. He was warily clutching a lit match between the tips of finger and thumb.
“Ah, I thought that was what I’d seen!”
The light went out again as Jack dropped the match before it could burn him. Ianto waited for him to light another, but for a few moments he didn’t. Instead, there were papery rustling sounds.
“A bit damp, but good enough I think.” This time Jack’s voice came from somewhere off to Ianto’s right. There was the sound of another match being struck, a small point of light glowing in the darkness, and then it grew steadily larger and brighter.
Ianto wiped at his watering eyes with the back of one hand and blinked, trying to focus on his lover; Jack was holding a thick wad of rolled up newspaper, one end of which was burning merrily, giving off light and smoke.
“Right, now we can get a better look at where we are. Hold this.” Jack passed Ianto the makeshift torch while he rolled up another bundle of newspaper, lighting it from the one Ianto was holding. “See if you can find anything better to use as torches. The newspapers won’t last forever.”
“Right.” Ianto turned away and began to search the cluttered cellar they were in. “Shouldn’t we be trying to find a way out though?”
“We are, but we need light to search by so the best thing we can do is deal with that problem first. If we find the way out in the process, so much the better.”
“I suppose that makes sense.” Ianto pulled a box out from under a bench. “Will some old rags do?”
“Maybe, if we can find sticks of some sort to wrap them around.”
“How about chair legs?” Ianto offered.
“That sounds promising.” Jack made his way to join Ianto, only to be disappointed. “They’re still attached to the chairs,” he complained. “Be a bit unwieldy carrying that around.”
Ianto might have rolled his eyes but he didn’t want to risk making his headache any worse than it already was. “Chair legs do generally come with chairs attached,” he said dryly. “But that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. We can break them apart.”
“Let’s see if there’s something a bit more convenient around here first. Those look like nice chairs, antiques; I used to have some like that. Seems a shame to smash them to bits if we don’t have to.”
“Suit yourself, but I’m going to need more newspapers first.” Ianto returned to the pile and wrestled one-handed to roll up a wad of them. His new torch wasn’t as good as the first one, but he lit it anyway and continued his search of the cellar with a light in each hand.
He and Jack had been investigating stories of strange creatures seen lurking among some terraced houses in Splott that were slated for demolition. They’d spotted one of the creatures sneaking about in the backyard of one of the houses and managed to capture it, before discovering that far from being a previously unknown species of alien it was really just a man in a costume. Before they’d had a chance to question him about what he was doing there, they’d been attacked from behind, and presumably knocked unconscious for an unknown length of time, only to wake up in pitch darkness. Which, when Ianto thought about it, wasn’t a particularly unusual occurrence for a Torchwood investigation.
Reaching the cellar’s far wall, Ianto made his way slowly along it. If he was very lucky he might… His search was interrupted by Jack appearing at his elbow.
“Look what I’ve found!” He had a small stub of a candle clutched in one hand.
“Very nice. Look what I’ve found.” Ianto flicked the light switch and a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling came on.
Jack pouted, upstaged, and dropped his candle in a hideously ugly vase standing on top of a battered chest of drawers nearby. “Huh. Guess we won’t be needing that then.” He looked up the flight of stone steps now clearly visible in front of him, leading to the cellar door. “Think it’ll be locked?”
“Only one way to find out.” Ianto started up the steps, Jack right on his heels.
Naturally the door was indeed locked, whoever had shut them down there clearly hadn’t wanted to make it easy for them to escape. However, it also had a severe case of woodworm and dry rot and it quickly succumbed when Jack gave it a vicious kick, scattering broken boards across a kitchen that had seen better days. At times like this a bit of mindless violence could be very therapeutic.
“Feel better now?” Ianto asked mildly, rubbing his temple. He hoped te noise hadn’t alerted their captors.
“Much, but you know what would make me feel better still?”
“Finding whoever knocked us out and returning the favour?”
“You know me so well.” Jack’s grin was positively savage. “They took my gun and I want it back. I’ve had that gun a long time.”
“They took mine as well, and my spare clip. I don’t like the thought of these people, whoever they are, having that much firepower. Whatever they’re up to sneaking around in disguise, it can’t be anything good.”
“Agreed.” Jack peered around the dark kitchen and the equally silent and lightless rooms beyond. “Doesn’t look like anybody’s here, they probably stuck us where they thought we wouldn’t bother them. I think it’s time we found their lair and paid them a visit, don’t you?”
“Lovely idea, but we don’t know where that is. How many houses have we got to search? Maybe we should call in the rest of the team, or the police.”
“I would, but they took my phone and my Bluetooth.”
Patting his own pockets, Ianto gave a defeated sigh. “Mine too. There goes that idea. What about your wrist strap?”
“I could use it to call another VM, but it’s not compatible with the modern phone network. Sorry.”
“Looks like we’re on our own then.” Ianto looked through the filthy, cracked glass of the back door, out into the night; dawn was still hours away. “Dark out there and it seems they took our torches along with everything else. We might need your candle after all.”
“I’ll go and get it.”
“No, don’t bother; we don’t want them to see us coming. We’ll have to make do with moonlight. The power to these houses hasn’t been cut off yet so wherever these people are holed up, they’ll probably have light. All we have to do is go from house to house until we find one with the windows blacked out.”
“You’re a genius!”
“I wouldn’t go that far.”
“You’re too modest. Come on, sooner we get started the sooner we can get a bit of payback.”
It took them a good half an hour of sneaking as stealthily as possible through the darkness, into one neglected and overgrown backyard after another, tripping on rubble and getting tangled in brambles and ivy, to find the right place, a house in the middle of the terrace where faint light leaked out around the edges of makeshift blackout curtains, really nothing more than black trash bags stapled across the inside of the windows. The backdoor wasn’t locked so getting into the unlit kitchen was no problem. There was greenish light seeping out from under the closed cellar door, but they ignored it; for the moment apprehending and disarming the men who’d attacked them earlier took priority.
Creeping from the kitchen into the hallway, Jack led the way to the first of two doors. Low voices could be heard coming from the room beyond.
“I still say we should pack up and move. What if more people come snooping around?”
“They won’t, and by the time these dumps get demolished and the bodies of those two guys are found, we’ll be long gone,” a second voice said confidently.
“They could’ve told someone where they were going. They might be police!” That was the first voice again.
“They’re not. Cops around ‘ere don’t carry guns.” That was another voice, so there were three people at least. “I’m with Stan; we sit tight, we only need a few more days and we’ll be ready to harvest. Then we can get out of here, go to that abandoned warehouse we scoped out down by the docks, do the dryin’ there.”
“There’s rats there,” the first voice complained.
“Suck it up, Jimbo. There’s probably rats ‘ere too.”
“Not as big as the ones down the docks. Other things down there too, things with sharp teeth. I’ve heard stories.”
“Urban legends,” the second voice, Stan, said firmly.
Jack chose that moment to throw the door open, striding into the room like he owned the place. He was good at that.
“Actually, they’re very real. We call them Weevils.”
The three men scrambled to their feet from where they’d been sitting on old wooden chairs around an incongruous space heater, eating cold pizza and drinking beer from cans. They froze when they realised two guns were aimed steadily at them.
“Who the hell left the bloody guns on the table?” a scrawny guy in his late twenties, with long, greasy hair snapped at his cohorts. “You two were supposed to hold on to them!” From the voice, that was Stan.
“I don’t like guns,” a younger guy with thick spectacles whined. That one Ianto identified as Jimbo.
“Very sensible, they can do a lot of damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even more if you do,” Jack said mildly, Webley aimed right between Stan’s eyes. With his other hand he held his phone, which had also been left on the table near the door, to his ear. This trio were obviously amateurs. “Kathy, I know it’s a bit late but how would you like to make a drugs bust? Marijuana, if I’m not mistaken. Seems there are three would-be dealers growing it in the basement of a derelict house here in Splott. Interested?” He listened for a moment, smirking. “I thought you might be; we’ll just hold them for you until you get here. You don’t mind if we rough them up a little while we’re waiting, do you? Well, no promises.” He gave Detective Inspector Swanson the location. “Always happy to help. See you in a bit then.”
The third man tried to surreptitiously sidle towards the room’s other door, an exercise in futility since he was almost as wide as he was tall, with red hair and a matching bushy red beard, about as far from being inconspicuous as it was possible to get. He made it maybe a yard before Ianto intercepted him and drove him back the other way to join his friends.
“Was it you knocked us out?” Ianto asked conversationally.
He got no reply, but he didn’t need one.
“That wasn’t very neighbourly of you,” Jack criticised. “Anyone would think you didn’t want visitors. Good thing we’re not easily offended or we might take it upon ourselves to do a little damage, shoot out a kneecap or two. We could always tell the police you tried to make a run for it.” He looked hopefully from one to another of the three men. “Any takers? No? Pity. I wouldn’t have minded a bit of sport. Livens up the waiting.”
Luckily for the trio, the police didn’t take long to arrive so Jack didn’t have time to get too restless. Stan and his cronies, with their hands cuffed behind their backs, were soon being ushered outside and into the backseats of three panda cars so they couldn’t talk to each other on their way to the station for booking.
Down in the cellar, which had been completely cleared of whatever junk had previously cluttered it, were several rows of healthy marijuana plants under growing lights. Harvested and dried they would have kept the gang in pizza and beer for quite a while.
“Any chance we could put in a bid for the lights?” Jack asked Kathy. “Ianto could put them to good use.”
“Strictly for legal purposes,” Ianto added quickly. “I’ve been trying my hand at growing coffee plants.”
“Sorry, they’re evidence until the case comes to trial.”
Jack shrugged. “It was worth asking. If you want to sell them off after the trial though, keep us in mind. Always a pleasure, Detective Inspector.” He and Ianto shook Kathy’s hand before leaving the scene and making their way back to where they’d left the SUV, a few blocks away.
As he slid into the passenger seat, his head still aching too much for him to feel up to driving, Ianto broke the companionable silence. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Always, you should know that buy now.”
“How come you happened to have matches in your pocket? I’ve never known you to carry them.”
“Oh, that. A guy at that bar last week wrote his phone number on a matchbook and dropped it in my pocket. I was going to throw it out, but I thought the matches might come in handy sometime so I held onto it.” He glanced at Ianto as he started the engine. “I wasn’t going to call him, I swear.”
Ianto chucked. “I believe you; thousands wouldn’t. So which one was it, the blond with the earring or the one in the leather pants?”
“Neither.” Jack pulled a face. “The one with the shaven head, nose ring, and eyebrows that met in the middle. Not really my type.”
“You have a type? Seriously?” Jack flirted so indiscriminately Ianto found it hard to believe.
“I do, as a matter of fact.”
“And just what is your type?”
“Cute Welshmen with deep voices, button noses, three-piece suits, and a talent for making the best coffee in the universe.”
“Ah.” Ianto smirked. “Know many of those, do you?”
“Just the one.” Jack winked. “He’s one of a kind. How about you?”
“Hm, I’m rather partial to time travelling immortals from the future, especially the ones with vintage RAF greatcoats.”
“Is that so?” Jack started the engine. “Looks like we’re a match made in heaven.”
Ianto settled back in his seat, his smile growing wider. “You know, I do believe you’re right.”