Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Gwen, Tosh.
Summary: After a mishap with alien tech, Jack fears his current state is affecting his authority over his team members.
Word Count: 1257
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 198: Authority at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Ianto stuck his head into Jack’s office, finding his lover right where he expected him to be, hunched behind his desk like he was trying to pretend he wasn’t really there.
“Jack, Owen and Gwen are having another… difference of opinion, you’d better get out here and separate them before they resort to using their fists.” He paused, looking thoughtful, then shrugged. “Or slapping, pinching, and pulling hair, which seems more in keeping with their behaviour.”
Shrinking down further in his seat, Jack threw Ianto a beseeching look. “How come I always have to be the voice of authority around here?”
“Because you’re the boss; giving the orders and settling disputes goes with the territory.”
“Can’t you be the boss today? Please?” The pout and the puppy dog eyes were out in force.
Ianto sighed; no one Jack’s age should be allowed to look so cute. Stepping all the way into Jack’s office, he gave his lover a sympathetic smile.
“I would if I could, but you know as well as I do they won’t listen to me. They just see me as the secretary and tea-boy.”
“They’re wrong, you’re so much more than that! You keep us all organised! We’d be lost without you.”
“While that may be true, it doesn’t mean I have any authority over the rest of the team. Plus I’m the youngest so they automatically assume they know better than I do.”
“Which is nonsense, since you know everything.”
“That’s beside the point. Keeping the troops in line is your responsibility. You’re the one who hand-picked them for the team.”
“Don’t remind me,” Jack groaned. “Sometimes I wish I could trade them in, exchange them for people a little less…” At a loss for the right word, Jack waved one hand vaguely. “Do you think I could get my money back?”
“I don’t fancy your chances. Come on now, you can’t hide away in here all day.” There was a crash from somewhere out in the main Hub and Ianto winced. “The natives are restless; you need to sort them out before they destroy anything irreplaceable.”
“But they’re not going to listen to me either,” Jack whined. “Not when I look like this! They’ll just laugh at me!” The pout grew even poutier. “They already did when they first saw me. I don’t like being laughed at.”
It wasn’t that Ianto didn’t sympathise, because he did, and it really hadn’t been Jack’s fault either; no matter how carefully alien tech was handled, it could still activate accidentally just because Rift travel, especially the end part where objects arrived in Cardiff, could be rough.
That was probably an understatement. Things weren’t just deposited gently somewhere soft; they were generally ejected violently at least a few feet up in the air and sometimes considerably higher. Then they might either drop immediately onto whatever surface they’d arrived above, which, more often than not, was something hard, wet, or both, or alternatively, they might ricochet off a few walls, trees, parked vehicles, or startled pigeons before connecting solidly with the ground. It was a miracle more of them didn’t go off on impact, or shatter into dozens of pieces, so it was hardly surprising that a significant proportion of new arrivals were already somewhat unstable before the team got to them.
Jack had gone out on a retrieval before the rest of the team arrived that morning, and he swore he’d taken all the usual precautions, but as he’d picked the curious piece of tech up with a set of tongs, intending to place it gently in the containment box he’d taken with him, it had zapped him with some kind of energy beam and…
It could have been worse, Ianto was sure, but Jack said only the edge of the beam had caught him, so instead of being completely transformed he’d just been left with big, floppy brown ears, a wet, black nose, and an unfortunate tendency to drool.
Owen had predictably laughed his head off at the sight, and Gwen had got the giggles, while even Tosh had covered her mouth with her hand, evidently trying unsuccessfully to hide her smile. Faced with so much hilarity at his expense, Jack had retreated to his office, shut the door behind him, and hadn’t come out since. Following him, Ianto had just given him a hug and asked what had happened before going to fetch his lover a cup of coffee and some chocolate hobnobs in an effort to cheer him up, but even that hadn’t helped much.
Tosh was working on the device, but it was quite badly damaged and would take a while to fix, assuming that was even possible. In the meantime, Jack would have to remain as he was, hence the hiding.
Ianto decided the time had come to get firm.
“Jack, you are still Torchwood Three’s leader; a slight mishap with alien tech doesn’t change that. Now stop moping around feeling sorry for yourself, get out there and put your employees in their places, because if they break anything the lot of you are going to be on decaf for a month!”
Startled, Jack stared up at his lover, then smirked lasciviously, an expression that wasn’t quite as effective as it should have been due to the trail of drool running down his chin.
“I love it when you get all bossy!”
“Wipe your chin.” Ianto handed Jack some tissues.
“Right, thanks.” Quickly mopping up, Jack pushed his chair back and stood. “Do I really have to go out there?”
“Yes.” Ianto folded his arms over his chest, giving Jack a stern look; he had no intention of backing down, Jack needed to see he could still assert his authority no matter what he looked like.
Taking a deep breath and squaring his shoulders, Jack strode from his office, trying to appear confident yet dreading being laughed at again.
“Owen, Gwen, shut the hell up and get back to work! And if you don’t have anything to do, I’m sure Ianto can find something to keep you occupied. I don’t want to hear another peep out of either of you, is that clear?” Jack bellowed, his ears flapping. Feeling himself start to dribble he surreptitiously mopped at his chin.
Silence fell, soon broken by Owen sniggering. “I still say he’s a dead ringer for Rowlf.”
“Owen, don’t be mean!” Gwen’s reprimand was somewhat spoiled by the giggle that escaped.
“What did I just say?” Jack said, the words coming out in a low, threatening growl.
Gwen mimed zipping her lips shut and hurried over to her workstation, sitting down and opening a file folder, although her shoulders were shaking with silent laughter.
“Yeah, whatever,” Owen muttered under his breath, but he disappeared down the steps to the autopsy bay, studiously avoiding looking at Jack.
“See?” Ianto murmured, coming up beside his lover. “They may be amused by your… um… predicament, but you’re still the boss and they still listen to you.”
“Mm, I guess, but… Ianto? Tell me the truth; do I really look like a Muppet?”
“Of course not!” Ianto said staunchly. “You have much nicer ears, all soft and silky.” Reaching up, he stroked one of Jack’s floppy ears.
Jack’s bottom waggled and he drooled some more. Ianto moved out of the way to protect his suit.
“Sorry.” Jack went back to mopping; the tissues were getting rather soggy by now.
Ianto sighed. “It’s not your fault. Just… don’t expect me to kiss you until you’re back to normal.”