Characters: Jack & others.
Summary: What to expect if you get recruited to Torchwood Three.
Word Count: 599
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Any, Working for Torchwood, you learn on the job,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
You can’t exactly take Torchwood lessons in school, or at least not in the present day, and very little of what you learn in ordinary life can prepare you for the realities of working in a place where aliens exist and you can never be sure what will be dropped in your lap next. The Rift is terminally unpredictable; it does whatever it wants whenever it chooses, and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it except deal with whatever comes through.
Every day is an endless stream of random learning experiences, a lot of which are terrifying, or confusing, or just downright bizarre, and each time you get through a whole day in one piece it’s a triumph as well as a relief. If the whole team comes through twenty-four hours completely unscathed, without so much as a paper cut, it qualifies as a minor miracle.
The adrenaline rush of facing danger and putting your life on the line on an almost daily basis can be addictive though; you have to be careful not to get overconfident, because that can lead to carelessness, which can result in an untimely death. There’s a reason the majority of field agents don’t make it to forty, and few even reach thirty-five. The job comes with impressively high wages because it saves having to calculate hazard pay; when it comes right down to it practically everything a Torchwood agent encounters in the line of duty is a potential hazard, even the things that appear harmless.
Working right on top of a Rift through time and space makes day-to-day life a guessing game. Making plans to do anything outside of work, at weekends or in the evening, is pointless; there’s no such thing as regular work hours. You can forget about booking time off for a vacation too. You work whenever the Rift is spitting stuff out, which is most of the time, or when aliens are trying to invade, which happens almost every month, or to prevent yet another potential apocalypse… Well, you get the picture. Some days, even some weeks and months, work is non-stop. You sleep, eat, do paperwork and chores, and try to have a social life in whatever time is left over from collecting aliens, alien artefacts, alien creatures, and nameless junk generously donated by the rest of the universe. And foiling those pesky invasions, of course.
If you survive long enough, which is by no means a given, you learn to use a wide variety of weapons, of both human and alien origin, and you get training in all kinds of hand-to-hand combat, some of which are probably illegal, but you can’t afford to worry about things like that when your life might be on the line. You learn to identify many alien species as well, and to know which are harmless, which can be lethal, and how best to deal with both types. You learn, if you’re fortunate enough to have the talent for it, to read and speak alien languages.
You also learn quite advanced first-aid techniques, the use of alien medical technology, various computing skills, including hacking, how to blow things up, and how to defuse a wide range of explosive devices so they don’t explode when you don’t want them to. It’s all in a day’s work for a Torchwood agent.
But before you get the opportunity to learn any of these things, you first have to survive firearms training at the hands, literally, of your new boss, Captain Jack Harkness. That might well be the toughest lesson of them all.