Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen, Gwen.
Word Count: 2680
Summary: Being a chipmunk isn’t so bad, especially when it allows Ianto to take revenge for the way his colleagues reacted to his predicament.
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.
The day continued on as normally as possible under the circumstances, with Tosh busily working on the mysterious piece of tech responsible for Ianto’s transformation, and the other members of the team keeping out of the way and getting on with their own jobs. Ianto himself was finding his new existence a bit restrictive; he was used to always being busy, but chipmunks weren’t exactly well equipped for cleaning, or filing, or making coffee. Still, at least when Jack had finished the pile of paperwork on his desk and went to check on Tosh’s progress he took Ianto with him. After all, he knew Ianto had a vested interest in whatever Torchwood’s tech expert might have learned, even though it turned out not to be much so far.
Though Ianto would never admit it, being able to sit on Jack’s shoulder was rather nice. Jack was warm and comfortable, which made him feel safe while he was so small and vulnerable. Plus, he provided Ianto with a good vantage point from which to look out over the Hub, and being up high meant nobody was likely to accidentally tread on him. Ianto was almost tempted to climb to the top of Jack’s head, the view would be even better from up there, three hundred and sixty degrees with nothing in the way but a few stray hairs, but he didn’t want to give Gwen and Owen further cause to make fun of him. At least on Jack’s shoulder he wasn’t so noticeable, and it meant he could still feel like he was part of the team and keep up with what was going on without having to deal with unwanted attention. As long as he kept still he was easily overlooked, and maybe if he was careful, he’d be able to find ways to prank his annoying teammates. Revenge would be sweet. Keeping his beady little eyes peeled for a suitable opportunity, Ianto waited.
The first one wasn’t long in coming. Gwen was in the habit of kicking her shoes off when she sat at her desk, so it was simple for chipmunk Ianto to poke one of the nuts he’d ‘stored’ in Jack’s coat pocket for later consumption inside the toe of each one without her noticing; stage one of Project Revenge complete.
Owen was a bit trickier, but Ianto had always been a patient man, even if he technically wasn’t a man at present, and he saw his opportunity when Owen did the coffee run, on Jack’s orders, grumpily making his way to the Ianto-approved coffee shop across the Plas. On his return, he handed out coffees to the team, and while he wasn’t looking, Ianto crept onto the medic’s desk and carefully gnawed a hole in the cardboard takeaway cup so that when Owen picked it up a moment later, all the coffee drained out over his desk, his paperwork, and best of all, his lap.
Ianto found the girly shriek Owen gave at receiving a lapful of coffee quite gratifying. He wasn’t harmed, just moistened, since the liquid was warm rather than hot; perfect drinking temperature in fact. Owen had left it standing on his desk for a good five minutes while Tosh went over some of the data she’d gathered from the transformation device with him, otherwise Ianto wouldn’t have chanced it. This was about payback after all, not cruelty; Owen could be annoying, and in fact quite often was, but most of the time Ianto considered him a friend of sorts. He hadn’t wanted to cause any serious harm, just teach the medic a lesson.
Back on Jack’s shoulder, Torchwood’s fiendish archivist, in the form of a small chipmunk, sniggered in the Captain’s ear, flicking his tail about in delight at the result of his prank. That one could definitely be chalked up as a resounding success!
“Did you do that?” Jack asked with a chuckle. “Excellent work; I’m impressed! Your ingenuity never fails to amaze me.”
Reaching up to rub his furry cheek against Jack’s smoothly shaven jaw, Ianto made a sound almost like a tiny purr, his little chest swelling with love for his captain. Nobody understood him better than Jack did. Settling down comfortably, he waited for Act Two of the Revenge of the Chipmunk to begin. He didn’t have to wait very long.
Barely a quarter of an hour later, the sight of Gwen hopping around and tugging off the shoes she’d just put on was the icing on Ianto’s cake.
“Who the hell stuck nuts in my shoes? Owen, so help me, if this is your idea of a joke…” She dropped heavily back into her chair, rubbing her tender toes and glaring at the medic, who’d just come back from the locker room having changed out of his coffee-soaked trousers.
“Oi! Don’t go blaming me!” Owen glared back at Gwen indignantly. “Bet you it was the Tea-Rodent, and it must’ve been him chewed a hole in my coffee cup so I got drenched!”
Jack leaned casually over the railings outside his office. “Let that be a lesson to both of you; it’s a bad idea to get on the wrong side of Ianto, no matter what form he’s in. Didn’t you know chipmunks are like elephants? They never forget.”
“Well he’d just better watch out once he’s human again,” Owen snarled. “Then it’ll be payback time!”
“Really, Owen? You’re sure you want to go that route? I have to say it lacks foresight on your part to make threats like that where Ianto can hear you, because I guarantee he can make your life more miserable than you’ll ever make his, and he can do a whole lot worse than just making a hole in your coffee cup. He might decide to turn his attention to chewing holes in your jacket, or hide your keys somewhere you’ll never find them, or…”
Owen raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay, I get the message, just keep that sharp-toothed little menace under control!” He slumped down in his chair, scowling, arms folded over his chest.
“Ianto is his own man, Owen; I don’t control him. You’re on your own,” Jack smirked.
“Bloody Teaboy! I didn’t get so much as a sip of my coffee!”
“You could always go and get yourself another cup,” Jack suggested mildly.
“I might just do that, and drink it there instead of getting it to go.”
“That might be a wise precaution,” Jack agreed as he went back into his office and sat down at his desk. Ianto immediately jumped from his shoulder onto the blotter and sat there smugly grooming himself. “You really outdid yourself.” Jack’s voice was laced with admiration. “Do you feel better now you’ve had your revenge on them?”
Ianto paused in his grooming to look up at Jack and nod, chittering enthusiastically.
“That’s good. I’m just glad I haven’t done anything to annoy you. I dread to think what kind of revenge you’d inflict on me. So, what shall we do now while we wait for Tosh to figure out how that device works and change you back to your usual sexy self?”
Chipmunk Ianto gave a little shrug.
“Yeah,” Jack sighed. “There aren’t a lot of alternatives are there? It’s not as if we can indulge in our usual way of passing the time. While I have nothing against you being a temporary chipmunk, I’ll admit I prefer you in human form.”
The small striped head nodded agreement. Now the fun with Owen and Gwen was over, Ianto found himself at a loose end; he didn’t need to search for food the way a wild chipmunk would, and he wasn’t hungry anyway. He wasn’t sleepy either. He could scamper about and climb things, but he was still too much himself to behave in such an undignified manner. He’d only be giving Owen something else to tease him about.
Thankfully, Jack had one of his surprising brainwaves. “I think I might have just the thing!” He rummaged around in his desk drawer until he found the travel scrabble set he’d bought the last time Ianto was in hospital, and set it up. “Fancy a game?”
Owen might have been joking when he’d suggested teaching Ianto tricks, but it was hardly necessary. He might be a chipmunk, but he was still Ianto Jones, with all the intelligence and memories he’d had before crammed into his tiny chipmunk brain, and his little chipmunk paws proved quite deft at handling the small tiles. Whenever it was his turn he scampered around the board carrying the tiles in his mouth, setting them in place one by one using both paws.
Naturally Jack cheated, coming up with alien words, but for once Ianto didn’t mind. He retaliated by using Welsh words, giving Jack a questioning look as if daring his lover to complain. Jack merely shrugged and totted up Ianto’s scores, noting them down on a hastily drawn up score card, deciding that under the circumstances it didn’t matter who won. The important thing was to keep Ianto’s mind busy and his paws occupied. When you weren’t yourself, and in Torchwood that tended to be literal, waiting to be changed back could be a frustrating and stressful experience; it was generally best to keep the affected person suitably occupied so they didn’t have time to dwell on their ‘condition’.
It was late afternoon before Tosh came up to Jack’s office bearing good news.
“I’ve figured it out!” she announced. “I mean I don’t know exactly how it can do what it does, but I do know the basics. It takes a DNA sample from something, in this case if must have come in contact with some chipmunk DNA at the zoo, and then it imposes that DNA onto another living being. It must have something to do with the flash of light you said hit Ianto, perhaps light of a certain wavelength, or a particular kind of radiation… Anyway, that’s not important right now. All we need is a sample of Ianto’s DNA from before he became a chipmunk and then it should be relatively simple to turn him back into his human self.”
“Good work, Tosh!” Jack beamed up at her before turning to smile at Ianto. “Ready to get un-chipmunked?”
Ianto shuffled letters around on the scrabble board to spell, ‘Yes’ and then ‘Thanks Tosh’, thereby completely messing up the game they’d been in the middle of playing.
“Hey, stop that! I was winning!” Jack pouted, but Ianto could tell he was only pretending to be annoyed, as pleased as Ianto at the prospect of getting his lover back in human form. “Well, I suppose we’ll just have to start over. Come on then.” He held out his arm for Ianto to scamper up and soon the chipmunk was back on his shoulder. “As much as I want you back to being you, I think I’m going to miss this part. I like that you can sit on my shoulder, all soft and warm.”
Ianto pressed his little nose to Jack’s cheek in a sort of chipmunk kiss and nestled against the side of Jack’s neck for the final time as they left the office and went down to the autopsy bay, where Owen was waiting with a drop of Ianto’s blood in a syringe.
Tosh had already set up the alien gadget on the autopsy table so as soon as they arrived Ianto scampered back down Jack’s arm and sat at what he judged to be a safe distance from it, not wanting to risk complicating matters by accidentally touching it before Tosh had everything ready. He watched, nose twitching, as his friend took the syringe of blood from Owen and dripped a single drop onto a smooth, concave circular patch on what Ianto presumed was the top of the device. It started to hum quietly, but nothing else happened and he chittered uncertainly up at Tosh, suddenly worried that despite her assurances, it wasn’t going to work.
“Give it a moment,” Tosh said calmly. “It needs time to absorb your genetic code.”
Ianto had rarely known a couple of minutes to pass so slowly. He knew that was how long it took because he watched the second hand sweep its way twice around the face of the autopsy bay’s wall clock, but finally the humming stopped. “Okay, it’s ready now, you just need to touch it. Everyone else stand well back. We don’t want to all be turned into Ianto.” As Tosh took a few steps backwards, Jack and Owen followed suit, stopping at a distance they hoped would be out of the device’s range.
Ianto took a deep breath and approached the device, which was easier said than done owing to the slipperiness of the surface he was standing on. When it was within reach, he sat back on his haunches and reached out a cautious paw, resting it on the dull surface of the device. For several endless seconds it didn’t seem to be working, but then there was that dazzling flash of silver light again and Ianto was standing upright on the autopsy table, fully dressed, much to his and everyone else’s surprise. Even Tosh couldn’t account for that.
He quickly took a step back, regarding the device warily, then turned to smile at Tosh. “That’s a relief.”
“How do you feel?” Jack asked.
“Like myself. How do I look?” Ianto raised a questioning eyebrow at his lover.
“Exactly right, although I’ll still need to do a thorough check, just to be absolutely certain everything’s present and correct.”
“Of course you will.” Jack wouldn’t be Jack if he didn’t insist on giving all Ianto’s parts a careful examination.
Tosh reached for the device with her tongs, using them to switch it off and lift it back into its containment unit, while Jack helped Ianto to the floor, only to get deeply and thoroughly kissed.
“Not that I’m complaining,” he said when they finally came up for air. “Far from it, but what was that for?”
“You didn’t laugh, or make jokes at my expense, you just did your best to treat me as if nothing had changed,” Ianto explained. “You have no idea how much I appreciated that.”
“Oh, I think I got the message loud and clear,” Jack smirked.
Ianto turned to Tosh and kissed her in the cheek. “Thank you; I owe you as well. It wasn’t bad being a chipmunk, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck like that permanently; it has certain disadvantages.”
“I’d never let that happen,” Tosh assured him.
“I know you wouldn’t, and I didn’t doubt for a minute that you’d figure out how to change me back. As for you…” Ianto looked across at Owen. “Let’s just say a leaking coffee cup could well be the least of your problems. It’s not nice to make fun of someone else’s misfortunes.” The glare Ianto directed at his colleague was much more intimidating this time and Owen took several steps backwards.
“Look, it was just a joke, that’s all. Lighten up!”
“Of course, Owen.” Ianto gave an evil smile. “When I feel you’ve suffered enough.”
Owen swallowed hard, obviously not doubting that Ianto would indeed take revenge on him; when he was good and ready. There was a certain piquancy to letting people stew in their own juices while waiting for punishment.
Turning away, Ianto took Jack’s hand. “Why don’t we get back to our game?”
“You sort of messed it up,” Jack reminded him.
“So I did. Well, we can always start a new game. And just to make things more interesting, why don’t we play it the other way this time? Strip Scrabble: whoever scores lowest each turn has to take off an item of clothing.”
Jack was beaming happily as they made their way up the steps from the autopsy bay. “Ianto Jones, I love the way you think!”
“I thought you might,” Ianto said with a satisfied smirk. Yes, being back in human form was very good indeed.