Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen.
Word Count: 2321
Summary: Thanks to a mysterious piece of alien tech, Ianto isn’t quite himself and he’s not at all amused by the way some of his colleagues are treating him.
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 237: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, using Challenge 61: Transformation. Also fits 48: Technology and 187: Shoulder.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Until the day the Cybermen and Daleks had come to Torchwood Tower, there’d been nothing particularly dangerous about Ianto’s job. He’d been primarily on the clerical side, a junior researcher, spending most of his time on his computer or wading through paper files. It had seemed to him pretty much like working in any of the hundreds of other office-based occupations rather than working for a secret organisation that dealt with all things extraterrestrial. Beyond headaches from staring at a computer screen for too long, and the chance of getting a nasty paper cut, there’d been little for him to worry about until that awful day.
Torchwood Three was an entirely different kettle of fish, with danger around every corner, if not from aliens attempting to invade earth then from roving Weevils, unidentified alien artefacts, and the teetering piles of boxes in the caverns beneath the Hub optimistically designated the ‘archives’. As with all things though, in time he got used to dealing with such occupational hazards. After almost becoming frozen dinners for a bunch of insane human cannibals, everything else seemed tame by comparison.
So far, he’d been shot, stabbed, chewed by a Weevil or two, suffered several broken bones, concussion, strains and sprains, cuts and grazes, and a couple of unpleasant alien ailments. He’d also had his appearance changed in a number of peculiar ways, but this latest incident was an indignity too far!
He sat on Tosh’s desk, glaring up at the team clustered around him and bristling at the expressions on their faces. Under the circumstances he doubted his glare was a particularly intimidating one, it was difficult to appear threatening in any way when you were small and furry, but he gave it the best shot he could, given his current size disadvantage.
Disappointingly, the rest of the team didn’t seem to notice, they just continued to variously coo and snigger at his predicament.
“Awwww! You’re so adorable, Ianto!” Gwen gushed, going all gooey the way she did when confronted by a puppy or a kitten.
Ianto found her comments insulting, but he gritted his teeth and resisted the temptation to growl at her, almost certain that any such attempt would come out as more of a squeak and be guaranteed to result in more comments about how cute he was.
“Now who’s the shorty then?” Owen crowed exultantly, grinning all over his face, and Ianto suddenly bitterly regretted having taunted the medic earlier that day about his less than impressive height. He should have known that particular insult would come back to bite him sooner or later. “Looks like we’ve got ourselves a new pet! Wonder if we can teach him to do tricks…”
Speaking of biting, if Owen poked his finger any closer, Ianto thought he just might test out the sharpness of his new rodent teeth on it. That would wipe the smirk off the idiot’s face!
At least Tosh was keeping quiet although when Ianto chanced a glance at his friend he caught her trying to hide a sappy smile. Bizarrely, the only one who seemed to be taking any of this seriously was Jack, who so far hadn’t laughed at him or made a single joke at his expense. Ianto decided immediately that as soon as he was himself again, Jack would be getting the best coffee he could create, and every other special reward he could come up with as well.
It had all started a couple of hours earlier when Ianto and Jack had been out on a Rift retrieval at Cardiff zoo. They’d found the newly arrived item easily enough behind one of the small animal habitats, but despite the fact that Ianto had been wearing latex gloves when he’d reached to pick it up, as he’d placed the odd device in the containment unit Jack was holding out to him, there’d been a flash of silvery light and then… he’d found himself unexpectedly transformed.
That could well have been the end of Ianto Jones right then and there; he’d all but suffocated before Jack managed to extract him. He’d shrunk as he’d changed, somehow ending up with his whole tiny body jammed headfirst into one finger of his glove. It anyone had seen Jack trying to give the kiss of life to a chipmunk… Thankfully, nobody had, and Jack had been able to tuck a revived but understandably somewhat shaken Ianto safely into his coat pocket, thereby avoiding any awkward questions from members of staff on his way back to the SUV. It would have been a serious problem if Ianto had been confiscated and put in the enclosure with the zoo’s own chipmunks. He didn’t want to think what might have happened to him then.
Still, they’d made it back to the Hub safely, and Jack had explained to the rest of the team what had happened. Tosh now had the device on her desk, still in its containment unit, with instructions not to touch it even with gloves on. That would make studying it more difficult; she’d have to use tongs in order to pick it up, but it was a necessary safety precaution. Accidentally turning the rest of the team into chipmunks would spell disaster not just for them but for the whole of Cardiff.
“It’s up to you now, Tosh,” Jack said. “I need to know how that thing did this to Ianto and how to change him back into himself.”
“I’ll get to work on it right away,” Tosh promised. “Try not to worry.”
“Thank you.” Jack offered his arm to Ianto. “Pay no attention to those two.” He nodded in Gwen and Owen’s direction. “They’re not worth the effort of biting. Besides, Owen’s thick skin might damage your teeth. Let me take you away from all this. I think I have some nuts in my desk if you’re hungry.”
Now that Jack mentioned it, Ianto was starting to feel a bit peckish, and nuts sounded good, something he could really get his teeth into and probably far tastier than Owen’s prodding fingers would be, even if biting the other man would be satisfying in other ways. Still, he wouldn’t want his colleagues to think they’d won any sort of victory over him. He glared at Gwen, who was just reaching out to stroke him, and bared his teeth menacingly. She quickly drew her hand back. Turning his back on them as casually as he could, Ianto scampered up Jack’s arm to perch on his shoulder, flicking his tail dismissively.
“Anyone would think they’d never seen a chipmunk before,” Jack said conversationally as he made his way up the steps to his office. “Have I ever told you how good you look in stripes? They really do suit you.”
Ianto risked a cautious glance back at the other three members of the team, who were staring after them, speechless. If chipmunks could smile, he would have been grinning all over his tiny, furry face. That showed them!
Up in his office, Jack sat at his desk and let his chipmunked boyfriend scamper down his arm onto the desktop. Ianto was still agitated by his colleagues’ behaviour and sitting up on his haunches in the middle of the blotter, stared up at Jack, chittering his annoyance, stamping his little feet, and waving his tail about to emphasise what he was saying.
To his credit, Jack just sat and listened attentively, nodding and commiserating. Ianto knew his lover probably couldn't understand a word he was saying, but nevertheless he seemed to get that Ianto was airing his grievances against Gwen and Owen.
Finally Ianto wound down, out of breath, his little chest heaving, and feeling a bit embarrassed about his uncharacteristically vocal outburst he distractedly started cleaning his whiskers, tail still twitching in agitation.
“I know,” Jack sighed. “They’re both idiots. You’d think by now they’d realise they’ve left themselves open to revenge once you’re back in human form.”
Ianto stopped cleaning his whiskers to chitter at Jack some more. It was probably just as well Jack couldn’t understand him because he was saying some very uncomplimentary things about the people he worked with, but it was oddly cathartic being able to say it all out loud.
Jack smiled apologetically. “I don’t speak chipmunk, sorry. Still, I know what you’re probably saying, and I agree; they deserve everything they get. You know I’m on your side, right?”
Ianto nodded his little striped head and rested a tiny paw on Jack’s finger. He felt so much better now, knowing that at least Jack was still taking him seriously.
“We’ll plot your revenge once you’re you again. Here, have a nut. You need to keep your strength up.” Jack dug in his desk drawer and produced the promised bag of nuts, still in their shells. Hazelnuts, walnuts, and brazils; from the looks of them they were probably left over from Christmas, but to Ianto’s chipmunk senses they smelled fine. His nose twitched in appreciation and he bounded forward, battling the urge to cram several nuts in his mouth and find a safe place to hide them. He still felt like himself, mostly, but natural chipmunk instincts were hovering in the background and he couldn’t afford to let them take over. After a few fraught moments of internal wrestling he managed to gain control, ruthlessly quashing the need to store food and selecting one of the hazelnuts. The other kinds would be harder to get into, despite his sharp chipmunk teeth.
Sitting back on his haunches, holding the nut in his forepaws, Ianto gnawed through to the kernel, deftly extracting it and tossing the inedible shell aside before settling down to eat. He was hungrier than he’d thought; being so small took a lot of energy. The nut tasted good but it was quickly gone and he reached for another, again making short work of getting rid of the shell.
Sitting watching him eat, Jack dutifully cleared away the empties and got out a nutcracker, breaking into several walnuts and brazils to give Ianto more variety in his feast and helping himself to a couple. It made Ianto feel less… different to be having a meal with his lover. They often shared food when they were both human, so it was a familiar and comforting activity.
As he ate, Ianto considered his current state of being and found he wasn’t too worried that he might be stuck as a chipmunk permanently. When these situations occurred, which they did from time to time, Tosh always found a way to turn whoever was affected back into their usual selves. She was as much of a genius with alien technology as she was with that developed on earth, and she’d had so much experience with reversing strange effects that he had no doubt she would succeed this time as well.
The only real question was how long it would take and whether Ianto could hold out against the chipmunkness inherent in this small, furry form until he could be changed back. Well, he was stubborn and as long as he stayed alert, he should manage. The only downside of letting himself slide towards the chipmunk side would be that he might be left with a few chipmunk habits for a while after becoming a human again, perhaps an intense craving for nuts and an unfortunate tendency to scamper everywhere, twitching his nose. That would be embarrassing, but considering all the hits his tattered dignity had already taken over the past few years he felt sure he could survive a few more.
That line of thought naturally led him to thinking again about the reactions of his colleagues to his transformation. In some respects, he could understand why Owen was teasing him and Gwen was treating him like a cute pet; it was just the way they were. That didn’t mean he didn’t find it irritating in the extreme, but he could deal with it, up to a point. What he couldn’t understand was why they never seemed to learn from experience. When things like this happened to him they made the same mistakes every single time, and every time they ended up paying the price.
It wasn’t as if they were idiots… Well, okay, sometimes they were. But regardless of that, exactly how many times did he have to serve them decaf or assign them jobs they hated in retaliation for their insulting behaviour before they got a clue? At least Tosh treated him like himself, no matter what form he happened to be in, even when she was finding it difficult not to smile at his appearance. He’d never had to serve her decaf, and not just because he owed her for restoring him to normal. Even Jack was generally supportive on these occasions, having been in similar situations himself. Perhaps Gwen and Owen just thought he wouldn’t remember the indignities they heaped on him once he was himself again, but even that was naïve of them. They knew he had a near photographic memory, and merely being temporarily turned into something else had never affected it.
Finishing a final nut, Ianto scampered up Jack’s arm to his shoulder again and settled against the warmth of his lover’s neck for a little nap while Jack got on with some paperwork. He was obviously trying to stay on Ianto’s good side, no doubt all too aware that if Ianto was displeased with him he might get a painful nip from his lover’s sharp little chipmunk teeth. Not that Ianto would really bite him, but it wouldn’t hurt to let Jack think he might. The threat of punishment, especially if it involved pain, was a good motivator with some people. Too bad it didn’t work for Gwen and Owen.
Ah well, he was sure he could come up with an effective way of punishing them if he just thought hard enough.