Title: Light Through A Window – Sequel to ‘Wild Ride’
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto, OC, Tosh, Owen, Gwen
Word Count: 2710
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.
It was maybe twenty minutes before Jack groaned and stirred, reaching one hand up to his head.
“Jack? Are you okay?”
To Jack, Ianto’s voice sounded faint, as if it was coming from a long way off. His head hurt, his back was aching, and he felt like he should remember what had happened but his thoughts were like a jigsaw puzzle with half of the pieces missing. He set about mentally trying to reconstruct recent events with the pieces he had left.
“Not sure. What happened? Did someone drop a building on my head?” He opened his eyes carefully and tried to look around. He was in the Hub, he was reasonably certain of that much. Ianto was somewhere about too.
“Right here, Jack.”
The voice came from his left so Jack cautiously turned his head that way, wincing at the pain the movement caused.
“Where? I can’t see you!”
Something moved beside the strange machine that sat a couple of feet away on the table he seemed to be lying across. Jack squinted and realised it was a tiny Ianto. He groaned again.
“Oh, now I remember. How long was I out for?”
“Twenty minutes, give or take. Guess it’s pointless asking how you feel.” Ianto’s tiny forehead was creased with worry; he looked as pained as Jack felt.
“I’ll be fine once I get off this damn table. I feel like I’m being bent in half backwards, reminds me of that time Hart pushed me off a roof. Just give me a minute to get up.”
“Careful!” Ianto warned.
Well, Jack tried, but under the circumstances, being careful wasn’t really an option. There wasn’t much to get hold of for leverage and when he tried to sit up, all he succeeded in doing was slithering rather haphazardly off the table onto the concrete floor, where he landed with a muffled thud and a string of very inventive swear words, some of which were definitely not in any earth language. Ianto hurried to the edge of the table and peered anxiously down at Jack, who was lying in a heap on the ground.
“I’m fine, just my legs have gone to sleep. Along with the rest of me.” Jack started flexing various limbs, trying to get his circulation back, yelping and wincing at the unpleasant tingling of blood flow returning to normal.
As soon as he was able to, Jack staggered to his feet and gripped the edge of the table, waiting for the Hub to stop rocking. Thankfully, it didn’t take long, no doubt due to his ultra-fast healing abilities.
“Okay, your turn now. Hop on.” Jack rested his hand palm upwards on the table and Ianto climbed on, wrapping his arms around Jack’s thumb for safety. “I’ll put you on the sofa, you’ll be comfier there when you change back than on the floor. The machine can go on the coffee table.”
“Be careful not to tip it when you move it,” Ianto shouted up at Jack.
“I remember, don’t worry. I’ll be extremely careful. I’d switch it off before moving it, but I don’t want to take the chance that it might not come on again.” Jack set Ianto down on the ratty old sofa. “Keep to one end until I have the machine in place, just to be safe. Don’t want you to end up shrunker. More shrunk. Whatever.”
Ianto did as he was told and watched as Jack got behind the Shrink ‘N’ Store before lifting it very gingerly, keeping it absolutely level as he carried it to the coffee table and set it down, turning it so the window in the front faced the centre of the sofa. It was a bit too low, so he fetched a couple of large, heavy books from his office and set the machine on those.
“That looks about right. Now all you have to do is make yourself comfortable in the middle there. You’ll be back to normal in no time. Don’t forget to shut your eyes.”
Having found that walking on the springy surface took too much effort and balance, Ianto wound up crawling to the middle of the sofa.
“Yeah, that looks right.”
Stretching out on his back, Ianto folded his arms comfortably over his stomach and closed his eyes.
“Whenever you’re ready, Jack.”
He’d barely finished speaking before that weird light lit up the world around him. Everything turned yellow/pink with sky-blue dots, he felt a peculiar tickling, stretching sensation begin, and that was the last thing he was aware of for a while.
Gradually, awareness began to return and Ianto found himself wishing it hadn’t bothered. He considered groaning but rejected the idea on the grounds that it would take altogether too much effort. A warm hand was gently stroking his hair; it felt nice. He thought he should probably say something.
“That feels nice.” The words came out as a hoarse whisper.
“Hey, welcome back.” Thankfully, Jack was speaking softly, no doubt in deference to the horde of demonic midgets wielding pickaxes inside his skull. “Headache?”
“No thanks, I’ve already got one.”
“Funny guy. Here, take these.”
Ianto cracked open one eye as he felt something being pressed into his palm. Bringing his hand up to his eyes, he peered at it myopically.
“Painkillers, how very considerate. The really good ones too.”
“Only the best for you.”
Getting the tablets into his mouth on the third attempt, since his coordination seemed to be a bit off, he swallowed them with a few mouthfuls of water from the bottle Jack handed him. Drinking from a bottle while lying with your head in someone’s lap isn’t the easiest thing to do, so they both ended up a bit damp and Ianto got water in one ear, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t seem that important, so he ignored it. Eyes closed, he waited for Owen’s extra-strong painkillers to work their magic.
Ten minutes later, and feeling more or less normal again, Ianto sat up carefully, reached for the Shrink ‘N’ Store and turned it off.
“With any luck, that should mean it doesn’t activate accidentally when moved,” he told Jack, “but just to be safe, I think it should only be moved when there’s nothing alive in front of it. I suspect it’s not really designed for shrinking living beings.”
“It should have a warning label on it,” Jack grumbled.
Ianto reached over and peeled up the edge of the handwritten ‘Faulty’ label on the side.
“I think it does, but someone stuck this one over it.”
“Typical. What now?”
“Put it back on the worktable and leave it for Tosh to study when she gets in?” Ianto suggested. “Maybe she’ll be able to fix it so we can make use of it.”
“Why not?” Lifting the device carefully, he carried it back to where it was when they’d arrived at the Hub. He stared at the table for a minute then turned to Ianto. “I think I’m gonna erase the CCTV footage of recent events, there’s no need for anyone to know about our… little adventure.” He winked at Ianto.
“You just don’t want the rest of the team to see you fall off the table.”
“It was undignified!”
“And yet, you never seem to mind when it’s my dignity that takes a battering.”
Jack looped his arms around Ianto’s waist.
“How about if I promise to be more considerate of your dignity in future?”
“I’ll believe that when I see it!” Reluctantly, Ianto extricated himself from Jack’s arms. “Come on then, we have a lot to do if we’re going to conceal your tragic loss of dignity from the team. It’s already almost 7 am, Tosh will most likely be here in less than an hour.”
Ianto headed over to Tosh’s workstation, closing down all the windows he’d opened on her screens, but leaving the translation results up. Jack headed up to his office, taking his books with him, and set about erasing the incriminating CCTV footage.
With the computer systems and CCTV dealt with, Ianto cleared away the string they’d used for climbing, along with a few other things they’d left lying around, giving everything a final glance and nodding in satisfaction.
A squeak came from under the desk.
“Oops! Sorry, Murray.”
Ianto knelt and un-tethered the rat, picking him up and carrying him down to the autopsy bay. Removing the shoelace harness, he placed Murray inside a tank-like chamber on one of the side benches.
“You’ve spent too much time with wild rats, you need to go through decontamination. Don’t worry; it doesn’t hurt.” He stared at the rat. “What am I saying? You’ve probably been in this before anyway.” Lowering the lid, Ianto adjusted the controls to the correct settings for a rat and switched on, then headed down to the locker room for a shower.
Murray sat patiently while beams of different coloured light passed over him, then endured being sprayed with liquid, which drained away leaving him looking unsurprisingly like a drowned rat. Finally, the decontamination chamber blew jets of warm, sterile air across him, drying him thoroughly. The lid opened automatically when the procedure was complete and Ianto, fresh from his shower, lifted a very fluffy-looking Murray out.
“There you go! Sparkling clean. That has to feel better than all the alley grime.” He set the rat on his shoulder and headed up to Jack’s office.
Leaning on the desk, he looked at Jack. “You should go shower, Murray and I already have. Mind if I borrow your computer? I want to order Murray’s new house.”
Jack smiled up at him.
“Go ahead, I’m done here.” He vacated his seat, letting Ianto settle in front of the computer. A few clicks of the mouse and Ianto had Pet World’s website up in a new window, then searched to see what rat houses they had in stock. Jack leaned over his shoulder, studying the choices.
After careful consideration, they picked out a massive, multi-level rat house with platforms, hammocks and plenty of ramps and tubes connecting the different levels. There was only one left in stock, which Ianto quickly paid for, arranging delivery for later that day, and ordering all the other necessary rat supplies to be delivered at the same time.
“That’s another job out of the way. Someone will have to be at the flat to take delivery though,” he commented.
“We can head home as soon as the team get here,” Jack replied. “I’m giving us the day off, barring the end of the world; I think we’ve earned it. We can drop our clothes off at the dry cleaners on the way; maybe pick up something for breakfast. You might want to find a carrier for Murray though, we can’t leave him running loose in the car, it wouldn’t be safe for him.”
Ianto checked his watch.
“There’s one in the storage room on sub-level three, should have time to fetch it before I need to get the coffee on.” He smirked a little. “I wonder what Owen will think of us making off with one of his rats.”
“He did manage to lose Murray in the first place,” Jack reminded him. “Finders keepers. I get the feeling Murray considers himself your rat now anyway,” he added with a smile, watching the rat busily grooming Ianto’s hair. “We should see if we can talk Owen out of one of his other rats too, Murray should have a ratty companion, it wouldn’t do for him to be alone all the time when we’re at work.”
Ianto gave a sly grin.
“Maybe we should take them all home. Owen doesn’t have much time for them these days, not since he stopped using them as test subjects. The new alien tech is more accurate and anyway, I think Owen prefers not having to resort to animal testing. Beneath that crusty exterior beats a heart as soft as a marshmallow.”
“Charming analogy,” Jack chuckled. “I’m having a hard time picturing Owen with a squishy centre though!”
“I’m hungry, my thoughts are revolving around food; one chip hours ago is not enough to sustain a full grown man. I’ll go get the carrier, you go shower. I hate to say it, but you smell like a back alley.”
With that final comment, Ianto headed for the sub-levels, leaving his lover to make his way down to the locker room for a much-needed shower. Jack wrinkled his nose in distaste. Ianto was right; he smelled pretty bad. Eau de Alleyway was not a good smell on anyone; even 51st century pheromones couldn’t mask the odour completely.
By the time Jack returned to the main Hub, the delicious aroma of Ianto’s coffee was permeating the air. There was just time to grab a mug each before the alarms started blaring, announcing the arrival of the team. For once, it seemed everyone had arrived at the same time. That was a minor miracle in itself.
“Probably curious about last night’s new arrival,” Jack muttered to Ianto. “They’re like kids with a new toy.”
“And you’re not? If memory serves, and it generally does, you’re the worst of the lot!”
“I’m the boss, I have to take an interest in all new tech we find.”
“You just keep telling yourself that.” Ianto hid his smirk behind his coffee mug. “Morning, everybody. Coffee?”
A chorus of yeses and a vague grunt greeted his question, and he busied himself pouring coffee for his colleagues, plus another for Jack.
“Where did you two disappear to last night?” asked Gwen. “When we got to the alley, all we found was a weird bit of tech in a containment box.”
“We had an urgent situation to deal with,” Jack replied.
“That’s what I thought,” Owen sniggered.
Ianto rolled his eyes.
“Not that kind of situation, Owen. Get your mind out of the gutter.”
Owen blinked at Ianto, or more accurately, at the rat on his shoulder.
“Hey, isn’t that Murray? Where’d you find him?”
“Oh,” Ianto responded casually, “we ran into him in an alley not far from where the device came through, and he brought us back to the Hub. Which reminds me, I really need to collect my car; we haven’t had a chance to go back for it yet.”
“Don’t you mean you brought Murray back to the Hub?” Owen asked, frowning.
Ianto stifled a yawn and waved one hand vaguely.
“Whatever. It’s been a very long, strange and tiring night, so the three of us are heading home.”
Jack nodded agreement.
“We’re taking the rest of the day off. Owen, you’re in charge. Don’t disturb us unless the world is ending, we’ll be in tomorrow morning. Have fun playing with the new tech.” Jack picked up a couple of bags containing the clothes to be dropped off at the dry cleaners and headed towards the garage.
Finishing his coffee, Ianto placed his empty mug in the sink, grabbed the pet carrier and followed his captain, pausing at the exit to glance back at the others.
“Word of advice; be careful not to tilt that thing if it’s switched on, you might not like the results.” He winked at Tosh, who grinned back at him. She’d already checked the results of the translation and had some idea of what might have happened the previous night.
“We’ll be careful, Ianto. See you tomorrow.”
Whistling a jaunty tune, Ianto turned and headed after Jack, leaving Gwen and Owen staring at each other in confusion.
“Was that the theme tune to The Borrowers Ianto was whistling?” Gwen asked, perplexed.
“How should I know? I don’t watch kids’ TV shows.” Owen slumped into his seat and switched his computer on. “Don’t know why those two always have to be so cryptic,” he grumbled.
Tosh giggled quietly to herself as she opened a new window on one of her screens and settled down to watch the CCTV footage Ianto had helpfully saved to a folder on her desktop. She really would have to ask him to tell her the full story at their next Curry Club night. She had a feeling it had been quite an adventure!
A/N2: And that's it - 25 squares filled! Bingo Blackout! *collapses from exhaustion* Why do I do this to myself? Hope everyone enjoyed the fics!