Title: Light Through A Window – Sequel to ‘Wild Ride’
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, OC.
Word Count: 2365
Summary: Back in the Hub, Jack and Ianto need to work out how to reverse the effects of the strange device.
Warnings: Blatant silliness.
Written For: My cottoncandy_bingo square Windows.
Beta: Thanks to the lovely tardisjournal, who did battle with this monster 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.
A/N: I had to divide this one into two parts for posting on LJ.
The Hub was in standby mode, lights low and computers powered down; clearly, everyone had gone home after bringing the mystery device back to base. They stepped down from the paving slab and Ianto led Murray to the Rift pool for a drink before tethering him under Tosh’s desk and feeding him the chips left over from their dinner.
“There you go, I think you need the food more than we do; you did most of the work, after all.”
Murray affectionately butted Ianto in the chest with his head, nearly knocking him over.
“Steady there, big guy!” Jack patted the rat. “You damage Ianto and you won’t get the rewards he has planned for you.” He turned to Ianto, frowning slightly. “Hey, did you give Murray all the chips?”
“Yup! He’s earned them.”
“What about us? I’m hungry too, ya know.” Jack was practically pouting.
“Well, if you’re a good boy I might give you a cookie from my secret food stash.”
“You have a secret food stash?”
“You know I do, you’ve spent enough time trying to find it. You never will though, it’s very well hidden.”
“Is that a challenge?” Jack’s eyes were twinkling with mischief.
“Nope, it’s a fact.” Ianto just looked at Jack with such calm confidence that Jack knew he didn’t stand a chance.
“Spoilsport. Ah well, I guess we have more important things to think about right now, like how to get back to our normal size. Being a living action figure is fun, but I don’t want to stay like this permanently, it makes life difficult.”
“Only just realised that, have you?” Ianto raised an eyebrow, amused.
“Ha ha, my boyfriend the comedian.” Jack stuck out his tongue.
“Put that away if you don’t plan on using it!”
Jack grinned and licked Ianto’s nose, making him laugh.
“Cut it out Jack, be serious for a minute. You can lick me all you want once we’ve fixed this little problem. No pun intended.”
“I’ll probably insist!”
“I’ll be happy to oblige.”
“You always are, and believe me when I say I appreciate it.” He gave Jack a quick peck on the lips. “Right, business before pleasure.”
Peering upwards, he pointed.
“Looks like Tosh left the device on her worktable; we need to find a way to get up there so we can examine it. How are you at scaling furniture?”
Jack turned to look where Ianto was pointing and studied the ascent.
“Looks tricky, this might take some thought. We’ll also need to see if Tosh did any preliminary work on it before she went home. If she ran any scans, there might be information on her computer that’ll help us figure out how to reverse the effects.”
“So, first order of business is to find a way of getting up there.” Ianto sighed. “A ladder would be nice.”
“Yeah, but failing that we might need to find something to use as a rope.”
“That’s not a problem, I know where there’s a ball of string that should be easy to get at.”
“Well, that’s a start anyway.”
It took some ingenuity, but with the help of the ball of string and a pencil they’d found on the floor under the desk, they managed to ascend to the seat of Tosh’s chair.
Ianto tied one end of a length of string to the pencil, which Jack threw like a javelin over the chair. When it came down on the other side, they secured the string to the foot of the chair, tied the other end in a loop around Ianto’s waist and then Jack, with Murray’s help, pulled hard on their end until Ianto was able to climb onto the seat. Once there, Ianto secured his end of the string so Jack could climb up, after he’d tethered Murray again. From the chair to the desktop was a much easier climb, Ianto simply gave Jack a leg up then let Jack help him up.
“Okay, division of labour,” Jack said when they’d caught their breath. “You log on to Tosh’s computer and do a search for anything that might prove useful while I take a look at the mysterious shrinking device.”
“I’ll check the archive records too, see it there’s any mention of tech that shrinks people. You never know, maybe something like this has happened before.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Jack smirked. “Just about anything that could happen, has happened to at least one Torchwood agent, including one guy who got turned into a liquid. I remember we had to mop him up and keep him in a bucket until the tech expert of the time managed to reverse the process. He ended up an inch shorter than he had been though; I guess we didn’t manage to collect all of him.”
“Okay, that is seriously weird!” Ianto looked simultaneously horrified and fascinated. Shaking his head, he turned his attention to the computer, powering it up and beginning the laborious process of opening windows and typing in search requests, poking at the keys with a pencil.
Once the searches were underway on one screen, Ianto checked to see if Tosh had done any preliminary tests on the new acquisition, discovering the results of several scans, as well as information on composition, power source and some tentative theories on its purpose and possible origin. She’d also set her translation programme working on the bits of writing she’d discovered alongside the various switches and dials. It was 94% complete. Hopefully it might provide some useful information.
“Jack, whatever you do, don’t move any switches or dials on that thing. We don’t want to end up twice our usual size or something equally insane when we try to undo what it did to us.”
Jack jerked his hand away from the dial he’d been about to touch, hoping Ianto hadn’t seen.
“I’m not an idiot,” he declared defensively, “I know better than to fiddle with something when I don’t know how it works.”
Well, that was true. He did know better, he just didn’t always follow the golden rule, mainly because he had yet to come across anything that could do him permanent harm. Being shrunk couldn’t really be classed as harmful since he was still alive, in one piece and as healthy as he’d been before; there was just less of him. He idly wondered whether he’d come back full-sized if he was killed while in this miniaturized state.
Ianto busied himself reading through all the data Tosh had collected before she’d left for the night. The device was composed of an alien alloy with some ceramic-like components, scans revealed an interior filled with complicated circuitry and there was an adhesive label stuck on one side as well as an etched panel on the back that could be instructions. He checked the translation programme: 98% complete; shouldn’t take much longer. He tapped his foot impatiently.
“Got something?” Jack asked, hopping back over onto Tosh’s desk and striding confidently towards Ianto, looking every inch the action hero (‘action figure,’ a little voice in the back of his mind reminded him, giggling gleefully. Ianto silently berated himself, reminding the little voice that he was in exactly the same state).
“Possibly. Tosh has her translation programme running. If it works, we should know in a minute what the labels say.”
Jack stopped beside Ianto, slipping his arm around his partner’s waist as they watched the progress bar click over to 99%.
“This is exciting,” he commented.
“The highlight of the entire adventure,” Ianto agreed, deadpan. “I’m quite giddy with anticipation.”
“I can see that.”
They glanced at each other and grinned. Just then, the computer went ‘ping’ to announce the completion of its task. Ianto glared at it suspiciously.
“It went ‘ping’! Isn’t it supposed to go ‘beep’?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Jack replied vaguely, staring at the screen as a new window opened and alien symbols began to appear on the screen, accompanied by the translation, beginning with the device’s back panel.
THE AMAZING SHRINK ‘N’ STORE!
Too much stuff? Not enough room? Then you need Agrifoy Essentials’ amazing Shrink ‘N’ Store™
Simple to use, the Shrink ‘N’ Store can shrink anything for easy, convenient storage or transportation, then restore your belongings to their original size with the press of a button whenever you need them!
Moving house? Pack all your furniture in one box!
Keep all your clothes in one drawer! Ideal for circumventing the luggage restrictions on space cruises!
No parking spaces? Simply shrink your vehicle and carry it with you!
Convenient, portable, solar powered and with a lifetime guarantee, this is the gadget no home should be without.
999 intelligent beings out of 1,000 say they would recommend the Shrink ‘N’ Store to friends and family.
Winner of the Primenz Award for Best Household Invention, the Shrink ‘N’ Store is consistently at the top of Best Buy Magazine’s list of Things No Home Should Be Without.
“Wow! I’m impressed!” said Jack.
“That really is a useful device,” Ianto agreed. “Think of the space we could save in the archives. Oh.” His face fell.
“That label stuck on the side.”
Jack looked back at the screen as the translation of the adhesive label appeared. In capital letters, it read:
FAULTY. TO BE REPAIRED.
Loose connection inside causes unit to spontaneously activate when tilted.
“Well, at least now we know what happened. You must have tilted it.”
“It slipped a bit when I was lowering it into the containment box. It’s a lot heavier than it looks.”
“Provided it stays level, we should be okay. Now we just need the operating instructions.”
They waited impatiently until finally the relevant information scrolled across Tosh’s monitors.
Using the Shrink ‘N’ Store turned out to be simplicity itself, a child could have done it. The controls, set on the top, were very straightforward. Firstly there was a dial for selecting the percentage of size reduction required; it was currently set to reduce objects to 7% of their original size. Beside that were two buttons, one labelled ‘Shrink’ the other ‘Reverse Shrinking’. There was also a two-way switch labelled ON and OFF. Unsurprisingly, it was currently in the ON position. In the front of the device was a circular window; presumably that was where the beam of light that had shrunk them had come from. To reverse the shrinking process, one simply had to position the object to be restored in front of the machine’s window, turn the dial to the same setting that was used for shrinking the object in the first place and press the ‘Reverse Shrinking’ button. The machine would do the rest.
Ianto looked thoughtful.
“We’ll have to be un-shrunk one at a time, there’s no way for either of us to stand in front of the Shrink ‘N’ Store and still reach the button on top.”
“Un-shrunk? Is that even a word?”
“It is now.” Ianto stared at Jack stubbornly, daring him to object.
“Right, un-shrunk it is. I’ll go first.”
“Because if being un-shrunk knocks us out like being shrunk did, we’ll probably fall off the worktable, which would do you more harm than it would me. Once I recover, I can carefully lift the machine to the floor, put you in front of it, press the button and get ready to catch you. I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“I’d rather you didn’t get hurt either,” Ianto objected.
“I’d prefer that too, but I can’t think of any other way. We can’t move the Shrink ‘N’ Store to a safer place while we’re this size and there’s limited space to stand in front of it.”
Ianto paced back and forth for a minute, shoved one hand through his hair, leaving it sticking up, then suddenly spun around.
“Instead of standing in front of the machine, lie down. It won’t be particularly comfortable when you’re restored to normal size, but you’ll be less likely to fall off the worktable.”
“You’re a genius!” Jack grabbed Ianto, kissing him thoroughly.
“Hmmmm,” Ianto sighed, licking his lips, “I should have brilliant ideas more often if that’s the reward I get.”
“You have brilliant ideas all the time; I just don’t reward you enough.”
“That’s true. I think I deserve a raise!”
“Fill in the paperwork and I’ll authorize it.”
“You do the work of about five people around here, I’d say a pay raise is long overdue. Now, how about I give you a different kind of raise?” Jack gestured to the Shrink ‘N’ Store. “You’ll need to be on top of that to press the button; come on, I’ll give you a leg up.”
Hand in hand, they jumped the small gap between Tosh’s desk and worktable, and made their way over to where the squat, gold coloured machine sat. Jack gave Ianto a boost then went around the front.
“How far away do ya think I should be?”
“Try for a spot about halfway between the machine and the edge of the table. Hopefully that’ll give you enough room to grow safely.”
Jack paced out the distance, found the halfway point and stretched out on his back, level with the window in the front of the device.
“You might want to close your eyes when you press the button, in case there’s that weird flash of light like last time.”
“Sounds sensible; you’d better close yours too. You ready?”
“As I’ll ever be. On three?”
“Or not.” Ianto pressed the button with all his strength and shut his eyes tightly. Even through his closed eyelids, he couldn’t help seeing that weird light, an odd yellow/pink colour with pale blue spots this time. As the light faded, he opened his eyes, blinking rapidly to clear his vision. A giant Jack was draped precariously over the end of the worktable. It took Ianto a moment to realise that Jack was actually normal sized now; he only looked like a giant because Ianto was still in his miniaturised state. He also appeared to be unconscious. Ianto winced in sympathy, hoping Jack would wake up soon; that really didn’t look like a comfortable position to be in.