Title: This Is Not Good!
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, Tosh, Owen, Gwen, OC.
Word Count: 2300
Summary: A routine retrieval causes some very unexpected problems for Jack and Ianto.
Written For: My cottoncandy_bingo square Miniatures.
Beta: Thanks to the lovely tardisjournal, who did battle with this monster, pointed out a major oversight and helped me figure out where to split it so it would fill three prompts. I couldn’t have done it without you!
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters. Which is sad.
They’d been out on a date when the Rift alert had come in, so Jack had called the rest of the team, telling them that he and Ianto were close to the co-ordinates and would secure whatever had come through if the others didn’t mind coming out to pick it up.
When Tosh, Gwen and Owen had arrived in the dirty back alley twenty minutes later, they had found a strange device sitting inside a containment box. The lid had been left open, but there was no sign of Jack or Ianto.
“I guess they wanted to get on with their date,” Tosh said with a smile. “It was good of them to do this much for us.”
“Oh come on Tosh, they probably just snuck off to screw each other senseless while they were waiting for us to get here,” Owen replied. “We all know what that pair are like.”
“Owen!” Gwen sounded shocked, but she was grinning.
“What? We passed Ianto’s car so they can’t have gone far.”
“Well anyway,” Tosh butted in to prevent an argument, “let’s get this back to the Hub, see if we can figure out what it is.” She snapped the lid closed, making sure it was secure. “Owen, can you give me a hand? It’s pretty heavy, I don’t think I can lift it by myself.”
It was indeed heavy, but between them they managed to carry it over to the SUV and load it in the boot before heading back to the Hub with Gwen driving.
Back in the alley some time later, Ianto stirred and groaned, rubbing his head.
“Ow! What the hell was that? Feels like someone hit me with an elephant.”
“Why an elephant?” Jack sounded as groggy as Ianto felt.
“Dunno, it was the first big, heavy thing I could think of,” Ianto admitted, dimly aware that he might not be making an awful lot of sense.
“Oh. I thought it felt more like being hit by lightning.”
“Well, I wouldn’t know about that. I’ve never been hit by lightning.”
“You’ve never been hit by an elephant either.” Jack levered himself carefully into a sitting position. “Unless there’s something you’re not telling me.”
Ianto considered that.
“Good point.” He looked about in confusion. “Jack, what happened to the device? Last thing I remember, we were just putting it in the containment box when everything went… er, pink.”
“With yellow dots. Yes, I remember that too.”
“Oh. Good. I thought maybe that was just me.”
Jack was on his feet now, a short distance away; he looked a bit unsteady, but then so did everything else. Ianto wasn’t sure he was a very good judge of stability at that point in time. He made it to hands and knees, then had to stop for a moment, waiting for the world to stop rocking.
“What has?” As the ground finally settled in one place, Ianto staggered to his feet on legs that felt like wet noodles.
“The containment box! Someone must have taken it while we were unconscious.”
Ianto turned slowly, scanning the alley for clues. Something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t quite put a finger on it at first. Then it hit him and he almost fell over again. Oh dear. He grabbed Jack’s sleeve and tugged.
“Um, Jack, I think we have a bigger problem than a missing containment box…”
“Yeah.” Ianto pointed at an empty beer bottle standing nearby. It was taller than they were. “I think we might have shrunk.”
Jack stared at the bottle, shaking his head.
“Oh, this is not good!”
“On the bright side, there’s a good chance the team came and retrieved the device while we were out. They must not have noticed us; they would have been expecting us to be our usual size, not five inches tall. It’s a miracle no one stepped on us by accident.” A thought suddenly occurred to him and an expression of almost comical horror crossed his face. “Oh God, we’ve been reduced to action figures!”
Jack’s reaction was definitely not the one Ianto expected.
“Cool! I’d make a badass action figure, check me out!” He struck a heroic pose.
“Jack! Get a grip!”
“You’re no fun.”
“That’s not what you said last night. Anyway, concentrate. We’re in an alley, it’s…” he checked his watch, “almost midnight and we’ve been miniaturised. Must have been the device we found, but if I’m right about the team taking it, then our only hope of getting back to normal size is probably back at the Hub by now. We need to get back there ourselves.”
“Right, good thinking. Come on then.” Jack started towards the alley entrance. “The car’s just around the corner.”
Ianto just stood, hands on hips, staring after Jack.
“And how exactly do you plan on driving it?”
Jack stopped dead.
“Oh yeah. I forgot.”
“How could you forget…? Oh, never mind. I suppose we’ll just have to walk. It’ll be a long trek.” He trudged towards Jack, already feeling tired just thinking about what was ahead.
“Hey,” Jack said softly. Ianto looked up and found himself enveloped in a hug. He leaned into the comforting embrace, inhaling Jack’s familiar scent. “Don’t look so worried, we’ll be fine. We’re been in worse situations than this. Besides, you have your very own superhero action figure to protect you!” Jack grinned.
Ianto snorted with amusement.
“You’re so cheesy sometimes. You’re right though.” He pulled away and started towards the alley entrance again, glancing back over his shoulder at Jack. “We’ve survived freakier situations, it’s what we do.” Then his eyes widened. “Jack, duck!” he yelled, throwing himself at his lover, knocking Jack to the ground. A breeze swept over them and looking up from his prone position, Jack saw wickedly sharp talons snatch at thin air where he’d been standing just a split second earlier. Then it was gone and they were alone again.
“That was an owl, Ianto!”
“I know what it was, I’ve got eyes!”
“Then why did you call it a duck? Oh!” Realisation dawned.
Ianto rolled his eyes.
“Come on, let’s get out of here before it comes back.”
“Good idea, don’t think I want to become a snack tonight.”
This time they were more careful. Suddenly painfully aware of the dangers that came with being so small, they kept close to the alley wall and jogged from cover to cover until they reached the end of the alley and peered out into the street.
Ianto was relieved that the alley led out into a narrow side street rather than onto Hemingway Road itself. At this time of night, the side roads were all but deserted here, just a few cars passing and the occasional pedestrian. They were lucky that the moon was just past full and the night sky was clear of clouds; the streets were lit, but the alleyways weren’t.
Digging in the pocket of his coat, Ianto pulled out his torch and turned it on, mildly surprised that even in its miniaturised state it still worked.
“Well, that’s the first piece of luck we’ve had so far. At least we’ll be able to see where we’re going!”
“See? Told you we’d be okay. You always worry too much.”
“One of us has to; you don’t worry enough.” Ianto paused, thinking. He already knew his wristwatch was working, he’d checked the time on it earlier, so there was a good chance the guns they both carried, even when off duty, would also still be operational. He smiled; their situation was starting to look a little better, though crossing roads would still be hazardous at five inches tall.
“Alright, I’ll concede the point. Things aren’t as bad as I first thought.” He shook his head, grinning. “Always have to be right, don’t you? Smug bastard.”
“On a related subject, if the torch and our watches are working, then everything else should be too. Why don’t we just phone the team, explain what’s happened and get ourselves picked up?”
Ianto turned to Jack, his face lighting up.
“You have your mobile with you?”
“No, mine’s back at the Hub. You have yours though, right? You take it everywhere.”
“Of course.” Ianto’s shoulders sagged. “It’s in the car.”
“Why did you leave it there?”
“It fell out of my pocket when I was getting in so I put it on the dashboard. I meant to pick it up when I got out, but...”
“Figures. Nothing’s ever that easy, is it?”
“So, back to walking, I guess.”
“Looks like it.” Ianto looked sheepish. “Sorry.”
“Hey, not your fault, you couldn’t know we were going to need it. At least you brought yours; mine’s still on my desk.”
“Super secret alien-hunters are supposed to be ready for anything.”
“We are. The key to our success is our ability to improvise, and you’re better at that than any of us. I have every confidence in you, Ianto Jones. You’ll get us back to the Hub.” Jack grasped Ianto by the shoulders and looked him in the eye. “Chin up, we’re far from beaten.”
“Right, thanks for the pep talk, now let’s crack on, we can’t stay here all night.” He turned to face the road and flinched as a car whizzed past. “Shit! That’s our biggest danger right there. Next trick: cross the road without getting flattened by a car. I’m beginning to understand why so many hedgehogs meet their ends on roads.”
“Good thing we’re smarter than than the average hedgehog then.”
They hurried across the pavement to the kerb and lowered themselves to the gutter, creeping as far out across the road as they could under the shelter of a parked car before making a dash for the other side as soon as they were sure the road was clear. When they reached the other side, Ianto gave Jack a leg up then Jack reached down to help Ianto. Together, they scurried into another alley and paused to catch their breath.
Although everything looked different from their new perspective, Ianto knew exactly where they were and was already plotting the best route back to the Hub. His main concern was the length of time it would take them to cover the distance. At the speed they were able to travel, it would be full daylight before they reached the Plass, and that would increase their chances of being spotted.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
“Just wishing we had a faster way of travelling. Well, wishing isn’t going to get us anywhere, let’s get on. This way.” Ianto took the lead, turning on his torch to light their way.
Halfway along the alley, he stopped, holding up a hand to halt Jack.
“Rats,” he hissed.
“What’s wrong?” Jack peered past him. “Oh. Rats. Now what? Do rats eat miniature people?”
“Probably. They seem to eat just about anything else. How are you off for ammunition? I have a full clip in my automatic plus two spares, and my stun gun’s fully charged.”
“I’ve got enough bullets for a couple of re-loads I think. Got a can of Weevil spray too.”
“You brought Weevil spray on our date?”
“I forgot to take it out of my pocket. Anyway, you can talk; you brought your stun gun!”
“I keep a spare in my car. I took it with me when we went to check what the Rift had dumped on us. I didn’t know what we were going to find, thought I might need it. Better to be safe than sorry, isn’t it?”
“Our dates aren’t like other people’s are they?”
Ianto smirked at that.
“Nope, but at least we’re never bored. Scared half to death at times, but not bored. Come on. The rats seem to be occupied, maybe we can sneak past.”
Sneaking past rats, they discovered, doesn’t really work. They hadn’t even drawn level with the pack of rats on the other side of alley before they were detected and almost immediately they found themselves surrounded by furry bodies. Ianto drew his stun gun as Jack aimed the Weevil spray at the nearest rat, but before they could defend themselves, something strange happened. Another rat, piebald and larger than the others, broke through the ranks of wild rats, snapping at shoulders and haunches and scattering them.
Ianto stared in surprise.
“Isn’t that one of Owen’s lab rats? You remember; one got out a couple of weeks ago when Owen got careless. We never did find him.”
“You recognise Owen’s rats on sight?”
“I take care of them for him when he’s tied up with other things, which is most of the time; looking after the menagerie is part of my job. Besides, I like them. It’s just the wild ones I’m not keen on; they can be unpredictable. Murray seems to be doing alright for himself.”
“You named Owen’s rats?”
“No, Owen did. He’s quite fond of them, not that he’d ever admit it if you asked.”
Murray the rat sniffed at Ianto and squeaked. Ianto patted him.
“Yeah, it’s me. I’m just a bit smaller than usual.” He turned to Jack. “See if you can find some string or something, I’ve got an idea.”
Five minutes later, they were off down the alley again, moving quite a bit faster than before. Rats weren’t the easiest or the most comfortable creatures to ride, but Murray hadn’t objected to the makeshift harness Ianto had fashioned from a couple of old shoelaces Jack had found and at this point, riding was an improvement over walking. Ianto just hoped no one spotted them. He could just imagine the headlines. ‘Fairies Are Real! Two Tiny Folk Seen Riding A Rat Through Cardiff!’ They’d never live it down.
TBC in ‘Part 2 - Wild Ride’