Title: Nigel’s Cardiff Adventure – Chapter 1 of 2
Characters/Pairing: Ianto, Jack, Tosh and Nigel
Word Count: 4258 – This chapter 2048
Summary: Nigel is travelling to his new home when he finds himself somewhere else entirely.
Warnings: Humour, silliness, and very good manners.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
A/N: Written for, and with the kind permission of, lexxiescott, who owns Nigel. Hope you enjoy Nigel’s adventure as much as he does.
Everything was quiet on the Roald Dahl Plas except for the soft pattering of rain when suddenly, out of nowhere, a sturdy box appeared in midair; it hung there for a moment before dropping heavily to the ground with a muffled thud.
No one noticed, as it was early in the morning and still dark. Silence returned to the Plas and all became still once more, until with a soft rustle, Nigel the Garden Dragon poked his head out of the comfy, straw-lined box he had been travelling in and looked around.
This certainly wasn’t his old home, but somehow he didn’t think it was his new home either. It looked wrong. He’d been promised warm sunshine and a garden with plants and lizards, but this was all hard stone, leaden clouds and rain.
He thought about just sitting and waiting, but his box was getting wet so he scrambled over the side onto the rain slicked paving slabs and pushed the box until it was under a nearby bench, out of the worst of the weather. Of course, that meant there wasn’t room for him to get in again, so he just shrugged, deciding to have a look around and try to find out where he was. After all, he was a Garden Dragon. A bit of rain wouldn’t harm him.
Setting off on his short, stumpy legs in what looked like a promising direction, he started looking for clues as to what this place was. After a bit he came across steps leading down to a sort of jetty. Now Nigel, because of his short legs, wasn’t terribly good with steps, but he had an odd sort of feeling that he needed to get down there to the jetty below, so he hunted around and found to his relief that there was an easier way down; a long, sloping ramp with no steps at all. It was as if it had been put there just for those who found steps difficult and Nigel thoroughly approved.
At the bottom of the ramp was the entrance to some sort of underground building. As luck would have it, the door wasn’t quite shut, as though someone had recently gone inside but hadn’t latched it properly. Nigel pushed it carefully with his snout and slipped through the gap into the dim interior, lit only by the faint light of early morning coming from outside through the part open door and a single small window. A bell jingled above the door announcing his presence as he entered and made his way over to a tall counter. Nigel couldn’t see over it, but he heard the rattle of a bead curtain coming from behind it and a rather pleasant voice saying, “Hello? Is someone there?”
“Hullo,” Nigel replied politely, looking up.
A head appeared over the counter and the man it belonged to looked down at him with a surprised expression on his face.
“Um, can I help you?” asked the man.
“I seem to have gone astray,” said Nigel. “Could you tell me where I am, please?”
“Hold on a minute.” The man straightened up, grabbed something from the top of the counter and came around to Nigel’s side, quickly shutting the door and turning on the light before sitting down beside him on the floor.
“You’re at Mermaid Quay, which is right here,” the man said, pointing at a place on the map he’d unfolded and spread on the floor in front of Nigel.
“Is that anywhere near Florida?” Nigel asked hopefully.
“Ah, no,” said the man. “I’m afraid not. You’re way off course; this is Cardiff, Wales, which is part of the British Isles. Florida is in America, on the other side of the world.”
Nigel looked crestfallen, which is a sad look indeed on a dragon of any sort.
“Oh dear. I appear to be rather lost,” he said sadly.
“Well, you’re certainly not the first and probably won’t be the last either,” the man said, “Do you have any idea how you wound up here?”
“No, not really, I was asleep in my box. I was being shipped with my people’s things from our old home in the Northern United States to our new home in Florida. I was meant to be guarding everything to make sure it all arrived safely, but then suddenly I was woken up when my box was dropped in that square up above.” Nigel pointed in the general direction with his snout. “I’m Nigel by the way.”
“Ianto Jones, at your service,” the man, Ianto, replied. “Do you mind me asking exactly what you are?”
“Not at all. I’m a Garden Dragon.” Nigel looked thoughtful for a moment. “In fact, I think I might be the only Garden Dragon. I’ve certainly never met another one of me. Of course most Dragons tend to be rather solitary, so I really can’t be sure. We keep ourselves to ourselves you see.”
“And you say you arrived in a box?”
“Yes, I left it under a bench up there.” Nigel pointed up towards the Plas again.
“I’d best fetch it,” Ianto decided, “you might be needing it, and it might give me some idea of your intended destination. I won’t be long, why don’t you make yourself comfortable in the back office?” He stood, folding the map and placing it on the counter, then picked up a big, black umbrella and hurried out into the rain. Nigel went around behind the counter as suggested, through the bead curtain and found a cosy place to lie underneath a desk.
It was only a few minutes before Ianto returned, locking the outer door and carrying Nigel’s now rather wet box into the back office. It was a sturdy, wooden box, with a separate lid, so it hadn’t been damaged too much by the rain, but the straw inside was rather soggy so Ianto threw it in the bin, promising to put fresh straw in the box once it had dried out.
As Ianto had guessed, there was indeed a label on the box’s lid, helpfully sealed inside a plastic cover. He showed it to Nigel. It bore the name and new address of Nigel’s people in Florida, as well as the name of the company charged with delivering the box to its destination. Nigel watched curiously as Ianto pulled a strange, hand-held device from the bottom desk drawer and ran it over the box. The device immediately started beeping.
“Just as I suspected,” Ianto told Nigel. “Cardiff stands on a Rift through time and space. There are small cracks scattered all over the planet, and on other worlds too, which connect to our Rift. When something slips through a crack, it usually ends up here. I work for an organization that collects the things that fall through. Whenever possible we send them back where they came from, or if they’re dangerous we store them where they can’t harm anyone.”
“Does that mean you can send me back?”
“I don’t know. You were travelling by truck, which I’m sure is now miles away from the crack you slipped through, so it’s no good sending you back through there, you’d probably end up in the middle of a road, which would be very bad. It might be possible to send you to your destination by airmail though.” Ianto picked up Nigel’s box. “Come with me, we’ll talk to my boss and our computer genius and work out the best way of getting you to Florida.”
“Thank you very much,” said Nigel with a toothy smile, “you’re very kind.”
“Not at all. I deal with lost travellers all the time,” Ianto explained. “It’s part of my job.”
Nigel watched as Ianto pressed a big red button under the counter and a section of wall opened. He followed Ianto down the long corridor that was revealed, then into a lift that took them down a long way. As a big metal door rolled aside to let them through, there was a deafening sound of sirens. Nigel would have covered his ears, but his legs were too short for that.
“Sorry about the noise,” Ianto apologized. “Sometimes I wonder why it has to be so loud.”
Another man appeared from a glass-walled office.
“Ianto? Who were you talking to?”
Ianto gestured downwards and the new man looked where he was pointing. Nigel gave his very best smile.
“Uh, hi,” the man replied, sounding somewhat bemused.
“Jack, meet Nigel. Nigel, this is Captain Jack Harkness, head of our organization.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Captain.” Nigel had always been very polite.
“Likewise. Ianto? Care to explain why you’re bringing strangers into our secret base?”
“That Rift spike we registered earlier was Nigel arriving. It appears he fell through a crack in space while on his way to his new home in Florida and wound up here instead. He needs our help to get back where he belongs.”
The Captain looked at Ianto, then down at Nigel, frowning.
“That’s all very well, but you know better than to just let strange beings into the Hub,” the Captain chided.
“With all due respect, Jack, Nigel is a Dragon. If you can’t trust a Dragon, then who can you trust? Dragons of every kind are inherently trustworthy. They don’t lie.”
“Huh,” said the Captain. “Must be a Welsh thing. Okay, I’ll take your word for it.”
“I don’t mean to impose,” said Nigel, “but I’d be most grateful if you could help. The humans I live with will be worried if their belongings arrive and I’m not with them. I was charged with making sure everything arrived safely,” he added, “but I don’t seem to be doing a very good job of it. All I’ve managed to do is get myself misplaced.”
A pretty Asian woman came over and knelt down beside Nigel, patting him comfortingly.
“You mustn’t blame yourself for that, there’s nothing you could have done, it was just bad luck,” she assured him. “Don’t worry, we’ll do our best to help you get home, won’t we Jack?” She looked up at the Captain before returning her gaze to Nigel. “I’m Toshiko, by the way.”
“Thank you, Miss Toshiko, that’s very kind of you.”
She shrugged with a little smile.
“It’s all part of our job. One of the nicest parts really.”
Toshiko tried her very best, but after studying the information on her screens and making a lot of very complicated calculations, she came to the conclusion that sending Nigel back the way he’d come was impossible. She also rejected the idea of sending him airmail, on the grounds that even Garden Dragons must need to breathe and there probably wouldn’t be enough air in the cargo hold of a plane at such high altitudes.
The four of them were sitting around feeling gloomy when Captain Jack suddenly sat up straight and announced that he’d had a brilliant idea. Ianto looked at him dubiously.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, Jack, but the last time you had a brilliant idea, we ended up glued to each other in a most unfortunate position.”
Jack waved his hand dismissively.
“That was just a minor translation error; it said glue when I thought it said lube. Anyway, this isn’t that sort of idea.”
“I should hope not!”
Even as Ianto spoke, Jack was pulling out his phone.
“The Doctor owes us a favour, I’ll just phone him and ask him if he’d be so kind as to give Nigel a lift home. If we play things right and the two of us go with him, we might be able to get Nigel back on the truck before it gets to Florida. That way, no one will even know he was missing!”
Ianto thought about it and had to admit that as Jack’s ideas went, it was definitely one of his better ones.
“Worth a try,” he agreed.
“Tosh, can you use GPS to trace the truck’s route and find us a good place and time to intercept it?”
“I’ll get on it right away, Jack.”
“I’ll get Nigel’s box ready while you phone the Doctor,” said Ianto, heading off towards the stairs. “I’m sure Myfanwy won’t mind letting him have some of her fresh straw.”