Characters: Jack, Ianto, alien.
Word Count: 1779
Summary: With mama spider dealt with, all that’s left is to take care of her nest. How hard can that be?
Warnings: Arachnophobes beware!
Written For: alafaye’s prompt ‘A typical Weevil hunt at midnight turns up something a whole lot worse’ at torchwood_fest.
Beta: twinsarein, who generously volunteered her time at very short notice.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Even knowing the spider was dead Jack still gave it a wide berth, taking the long way around to the sacristy, breaking the long strands of webbing as he went. They proved surprisingly tough and were strung so tautly the ends sprang back like elastic when they were severed. Ianto was doing the same on his own, more direct approach, because scrambling over, under, or around them was just too much of a hassle. Eventually they met up again in the dark doorway and shone their torches over the interior of the small room, checking for any unpleasant surprises before venturing inside.
The web was much thicker here, stretching wall to wall and floor to ceiling, creating a barrier that effectively blocked access to the back of the room. Because it was sticky, clearing a path through it to the rear wall was slow and exhausting work; both men were sweating and breathing hard by the time they broke through the final layer and could see their goal.
Right at the top of the wall, wedged into the angle where the two walls and the ceiling met, was a rounded blob of tightly woven cobwebs nearly two metres across and firmly anchored in place by a mass of strands creating a sort of net. The blob was moving, pulsing with the life growing within. How many eggs were there? Ianto wondered. How many more of the monstrous spiders would hatch if they were allowed to continue their development? And exactly how close were they to hatching? Probably best not to wait and find out.
He noticed immediately that none of the other webbing in the room connected to the nest; it was completely isolated, probably for the protection of mama spider’s precious eggs. He holstered his Torchwood special and pulled out the stun gun once more, glancing over at Jack as he did so.
“It worked on mama; let’s see if it’ll have the same effect on the nest.”
Jack nodded. “Do it.” He was all for turning that giant creepy crawly’s offspring into crispy critters. The last thing Cardiff needed was an invasion of monster spiders hell bent on killing residents and holidaymakers alike for food. It would ruin the tourist industry.
“Okay, stand back.” Ianto switched the stun gun on, hoping it still had enough juice left to do the job, stretched up on his tiptoes, but he came up about a foot short. There was no furniture in the room, other than a rickety looking bench that he wasn’t about to risk standing on. “No good, I think I need a boost.”
“Say no more.” Coming up alongside him, Jack stooped, lacing his fingers together, creating a stirrup. Ianto put his foot in it and braced his free hand against the wall for balance as Jack hoisted him upwards. “Just don’t take too long about it, I’m not Superman!”
“If you were you could do this yourself.” Ianto raised the stun gun, pressed the business end of it to the centre of the nest, and squeezed the trigger, pouring the remaining charge into the spider eggs before jumping clear, stumbling slightly on landing.
The result was quite spectacular; there was a mad crackling and fizzing and the nest lit up like some bizarre Christmas tree, with flashes of blue, green, and purple shooting across its surface as it shrivelled up and began to crumble into blackened ash. The light show was almost pretty, but the aroma of fried spider eggs was far from pleasant in the confined space. Coughing and spluttering, their eyes streaming from the acrid stench, Jack and Ianto staggered to the sacristy door and out into the nave of the church once more, clutching at each other to stay more or less upright in their half-blinded state.
“Good God, that’s disgusting,” Ianto gasped, shoving the deactivated stun gun back in his pocket and wiping at his eyes with the sleeve of his coat.
“Disgusting doesn’t even begin to describe it! I’ve been subjected to some truly horrendous smells in my time,” Jack choked out between coughing fits, “but that’s definitely in the top five. I’d categorize it as Grade Two Yuk.”
“Grade Two? What’s Grade One?” Ianto asked.
“Trust me, you don’t want to know. Are you okay?”
“Aside from smelling strongly of barbecued spider nest.” Ianto wrinkled his nose. “The dry cleaner is going to have fits when I take our clothes in. I don’t know how I’m going to explain the stink. Maybe we should just burn everything and be done with it.”
“No way! You can’t do that!” Ignoring the stink, Jack clutched his coat protectively around him, eyes wider with horror than they had been at the sight of the giant spider.
“You’re right; what was I thinking? Maybe if we go back to the Hub and stand under the decontamination shower for a bit, fully clothed, we’ll wash the worst of it out.”
“I’m game to try anything that doesn’t involve incinerating my coat.”
Ianto checked his watch; it was getting on for three in the morning. “It’s late, or early, depending on how you look at it. We can come back tomorrow with the rest of the team and complete the cleanup,” he decided. “For once I think cleaning ourselves takes priority.”
“No argument there. I’ll drive; I want to get back to the Hub as fast as possible.”
“Fine.” Ianto dug in his pocket and handed Jack the keys. “But we’re covering the seats before we get in, and driving with all the windows open.”
“I’d have suggested that if you hadn’t. Being shut in with this stench doesn’t bear thinking about.”
“As long as we’re on the same page. After you.” Ianto gestured for Jack to lead the way. “Just in case a hungry Weevil sees us coming and thinks we smell appetising.”
“Ew! Even Weevils have better taste than that, don’t they?”
“They like eating what they find in sewers, Jack; their sense of taste, not to mention smell, is suspect at the best of times, and I’m not in the mood to take chances.”
“Yeah, that’s understandable, I guess.”
Jack led the way across the church, pausing just long enough for Ianto to tip the brazier over and dump earth and other non-flammable substances over the embers of their fire. As they squeezed back through the door, they drew in deep breaths of the fresh night air, trying to clear the stink from their nostrils; a futile task since it had soaked into the very fibres of their clothing and followed them wherever they went. Short of stripping naked, they were unlikely to escape it, and even then it was probably clinging to their hair and skin. Nevertheless, the cool breeze was welcome, drying the sweat on their faces and helping them to feel more alert.
Back at the SUV, Ianto spread black bin bags over the seats and floor from the roll he kept in the boot, then handed Jack a pair of latex gloves to wear for driving. The fewer things they touched, the less he’d need to clean. Jack started the ignition before getting in, and with the flick of a switch, wound all the windows down; they were on their way back to the Hub before Ianto even got the passenger side door closed. Neither of them bothered with seatbelts.
Arriving in the underground garage, Jack pulled the SUV into its usual parking space, turned off the ignition, and got out, leaving all the doors and windows open in an effort to air it out. The drive back had taken seven and a half minutes, with Jack running several red lights in his mad dash, but the roads had been almost empty so it had been safe enough. There was probably another speeding ticket lurking in their future, but Ianto just shrugged that thought off; he’d deal with it when it showed up, just as he always did.
Right now, all that mattered was getting out of their stinky clothes and into a hot shower, with plenty of Torchwood’s patented industrial strength shower gel and shampoo. They were guaranteed to eliminate almost any odour known to man, but Ianto had never tried either against any smell this powerful and pervasive; he had to wonder if they’d be equal to the task. His nostrils were going numb from the stench, and Jack could forget about post-hunting sex until he smelled like himself again. 51st century pheromones didn’t combine well with the indescribable aroma of burnt spider eggs.
The decontamination shower used a range of alien chemicals to neutralise the wide variety of noxious and potentially dangerous substances Torchwood agents tended to come into contact with; everything from acids and other corrosives to radioactive materials and toxins. Standing under the spray was never a pleasant experience, and with two of them in there, fully dressed, the cubicle felt even more cramped than usual, but they were both perfectly willing to endure the discomfort if it meant saving their clothes. By the time they stepped out at the end of the full decontamination cycle, they smelled, in Ianto’s words, less worse.
Hustling to the locker room, they stripped naked and hung their clothing in one shower, letting cool water rinse away the decon chemicals, before piling into the next cubicle together for a very enjoyable forty minutes of lathering each other all over several times. They eventually emerged smelling considerably sweeter and spotlessly clean.
Much later, after their usual post-hunt celebrations, they lay snuggled together in Jack’s small bunk, basking in post-coital bliss and exuding the far more appealing aromas of sweat and sex.
“We should leave a message for the others about doing the clean-up and take the morning off,” Jack mumbled against Ianto’s hair. “We’ve more than earned it, heroically battling the eight-legged menace and her progeny.”
Ianto’s only reply was a faint snore.
“That’s settled then,” Jack whispered, smiling. He reached for his phone, sending a quick text before dropping the small device back on the top of his bedside cabinet and turning off the light. The best part of being the boss was that he got to delegate a lot of the tasks he didn’t want to do. Rolling over, he pulled Ianto closer, burying his nose in the nape of his lover’s neck and breathing in the familiar scent of warm Ianto. Just as he was drifting off to sleep, it occurred to him that when he texted the rest of the team, he probably should have made some mention of the smell…
Oh well, it was too late now; they’d find out for themselves soon enough.