Title: Through Time And Space: Chapter 3.1 – Explorations Part 2.1
Characters: Ianto, OFC, mentions Jack
Rating: PG-13 for some swearing.
Word Count: 2103
Spoilers: CoE, House of the Dead
Summary: Ianto explores his TARDIS and gets a few surprises along the way.
Written For: Challenge #95: Exploration at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
A/N: LJ won’t let me post this one in one piece. This is the start of the second of two chapters written for this challenge.
Since he was going to be living on board for the foreseeable future, Ianto thought it important to learn his way around his TARDIS. He didn’t want to have to keep asking her for directions all the time; that would make him appear lazy. Drawing a deep breath, he pushed open the door and strode out of the wardrobe, trying for an air of calm confidence. Exploring was something he knew how to do; after all, he’d explored and memorised every passageway and room in the Hub when he’d been looking for a safe place to hide Lisa. That had been an interesting experience despite the circumstances, but this was going to be a real adventure. He could feel excitement bubbling up inside him at the prospect and knew he was probably grinning like a loon.
“Right, let’s see what else you have on board!” It was all he could do not to rub his hands together in glee!
The short passageway leading to the wardrobe was devoid of doors, so he made his way back to the last junction. The most sensible course of action would be to head back to the control room by the same route he’d used to get here, checking out what was in the rooms he’d passed earlier. Sensible, yes, but not as much fun as the alternative. He turned in the opposite direction; if he did manage to get lost, he knew the TARDIS would guide him back again.
Wandering along a multitude of meandering corridors and down two more flights of stairs, he quickly realised that unlike the interior of the Hub, the layout of the TARDIS was completely random. The corridors twisted and turned every which way, often going in directions that probably shouldn’t even have been possible; was that the result of his own confused state of mind when she’d been growing herself using images drawn from his memory? It was certainly going to make learning his way around rather complicated.
Ianto gradually realised he hadn’t passed any doors at all in some time, not since long before he’d arrived at what seemed to be the lowest level, but he could feel a slight vibration through the tiled floors so there was obviously something down here. Turning a final corner, he found himself in a short passageway, blocked at the end by what was most likely this level’s only door. Made of riveted metal, it looked solid and heavy, like a bulkhead door on a submarine.
“Is that where your, um, engine is?”
“That is where my power core resides, yes.”
“Is it safe to look?”
“It will do you no harm. My systems are powered by the time vortex.”
“The same stuff that’s in me?”
“Indeed, though I require far more vortex energy than you could provide.” The TARDIS sounded amused.
Ianto looked thoughtful.
“The only other TARDIS I know about has to recharge periodically using Rift energy, but the only Rift I’m aware of is closed now.”
“I believe my systems are more efficient; I am, after all, a more recent model. I have evolved TARDIS technology considerably. Unlike earlier models, I am able to recharge whenever I am within the vortex travelling from one place or time to another.”
Ianto couldn’t help chuckling at the TARDIS’s smug tone.
“Oh, if we run into the Doctor, he’s going to be soooo envious!”
“The Doctor is a Time Lord.” It wasn’t a question, but Ianto answered anyway.
“Yes. The only one left.”
“Yes.” It was barely a whisper in his mind, tinged with regret and sorrow. Ianto understood. If the Time Lords were almost all gone, then so were their TARDISes. He couldn’t imagine how it must feel to be almost the last of your kind.
Running his hand sympathetically along the nearest wall, he walked up to what he decided to call the engine room door and peered through the thick glass observation window that was now set into it. Inside, surrounded by complicated organic technology, a column of blue and gold energy swirled restlessly, seeming to travel both upwards and downwards at the same time. It was hypnotically beautiful. Dragging his gaze away from it after staring for several minutes, Ianto leaned against the wall and looked up at the ceiling.
“This means I must be directly below the control room here, right? The energy flows straight up and through the Time Rotor there.”
“That is correct!” The TARDIS sounded pleased that he’d figured it out.
“So this is the central point, your heart.”
“Yes, the exact centre at my lowest point. All rooms on this level house the systems required for life support, power, recycling, navigation and propulsion. Most are walled off, existing in a near vacuum. There are double reinforced walls around all sensitive areas.”
Ianto nodded, taking in the information.
“I’m not likely to need to enter any of those areas anyway, I shouldn’t think.”
“It is unlikely. The majority of my systems are autonomic; those that are not are under my direct control. Rather like you heart and lungs work without any conscious thought, while in order to walk, you must make a decision to do so. You are, in effect, inside my body.”
That was a slightly bizarre thought. He’d known TARDISes were living beings, but until now it hadn’t really registered that he was wandering around someone’s insides.
“Not really. I designed myself to be a suitable accommodation for you.”
“From images you found in my mind.”
“I’m starting to regret studying the works of Escher when I was at Uni,” he chuckled. “Some of your interior layout is rather unusual, to say the least.”
“Do you like it? I found it very interesting. I was unable to truly replicate the ideas, at least not without making detours into several other dimensions, which would have been impractical, but I was able to create a quite effective illusion in a few places.”
“I think it’s bloody marvellous!” Ianto grinned.
Heading back towards the stairs, he continued to trail one hand along her wall as he walked.
“To get here, I came down two flights from where the wardrobe is, but there was no exit from the staircase on the level above this.”
“That is correct. The compartments housing my systems have ceilings almost twice as high as you will find on the other levels.”
“So the wardrobe is on your lowest habitable level. What else is there? No! Don’t tell me. I think I’d prefer to find out for myself. It’ll help me learn my way around.”
Ianto broke into a jog as the stairs came into sight, bounding up them three at a time. As interesting as the engine room had been, it wasn’t really ‘his’ part of the TARDIS. Now that he’d got his bearings, the rest of his extraordinary new home beckoned. He couldn’t wait to discover what other wonders it contained!
Back up on what he’d decided to call the wardrobe level, he wended his way back through twisting, winding, doorless corridors to the short passage that led to the wardrobe itself.
“How come there aren’t any doors back there?” he asked, gesturing back the way he’d come.
“I couldn’t find anywhere to put rooms,” the TARDIS explained apologetically. “The corridors got in the way.”
“Ah. Yes, I can see how that might happen. They’re great corridors though, ideal for jogging. Uphill, downhill, lots of turns for variety; they’ll give me a thorough workout.”
Somehow he got the distinct impression that the TARDIS was pleased that he approved of her layout.
Following the corridor in the opposite direction to the one he’d just been exploring, he checked out the two passages he’d passed earlier. The first led to what seemed to be an empty storage cupboard, lined with shelves.
“Always good to have somewhere to put things out of the way. I’m sure we’ll pick up all sorts of fascinating things on our travels.”
Leaving the small room, he made his way back to the main corridor and down the third passage. This one opened into a brightly lit area with pale cream walls and a smooth, hardwearing fake wood floor. Everywhere he looked there was gleaming new gym equipment; rowing and cycling machines, weight benches, a couple of treadmills, aerobics equipment, dumbbells… A punching bag hung from a sturdy low beam in one corner and exercise mats lay rolled up by the walls. There was even a vaulting horse, a set of parallel bars and a set of those ring things hanging from the ceiling… He’d seen them when he’d watched bits of the last Olympics in between Rift alerts; what were they called? Oh, of course: rings. Ianto rolled his eyes. Fancy forgetting that! Whoever named the events and equipment obviously didn’t have much imagination. He shook his head, gazing around in wonder.
“Bloody hell! I could train for the next Olympics in here!” He glanced down at himself appraisingly. “Not too shabby. Guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep in shape though. Never know what kind of trouble we might run into. You know, I haven’t seen a set-up even close to this since London. Never found anything this swanky in Cardiff, except for the more exclusive clubs that wouldn’t have wanted me as a member anyway. I’ll get myself kitted out later and try some of these out.” Working for Torchwood Three hadn’t left a lot of time for the kind of regular exercise regime he’d had back in London; he sort of missed it, even though he’d hated it with a passion at the time. Torchwood One staff had been expected to adhere to strict fitness levels, even those who only worked in admin. That had been the end of his smoking habit; Hartman had made it clear that she didn’t approve of employees smoking, though some of the braver souls had clung to their nicotine addictions.
Exploring further, Ianto discovered a small squash court, changing rooms, sonic showers, and to his surprise, a sauna. That would be bliss. The only thing better than steam for soothing aches and pains would be a hot tub. Maybe he’d ask the TARDIS later if he could have one of those too, if that wouldn’t be considered too greedy.
Back out in the main corridor one more, Ianto made his way to the next short passageway. Stepping through the door at the end, he found a small, tiled room, with an even smaller shallow pool in the middle. It was maybe a foot deep and filled with clear water, which felt pleasantly warm when he dipped his hand into it.
During his wandering, he’d gradually begun to realise that he could feel the TARDIS in his mind as a constant, unobtrusive presence; it felt a bit odd having someone else in his head with him, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Now he discovered that if he concentrated, he could sort of sense what she was feeling. Right now, she was decidedly embarrassed.
“As I mentioned before, we exited the no-place before I could achieve optimum dimensions,” she informed him apologetically. “It was necessary to concentrate on vital systems first, then the control room and living quarters. The less essential rooms were left until last, and are therefore at varying stages of growth.”
If she could have blushed, Ianto was sure she would have. He hazarded a guess.
“Yes. I am sorry.”
“Don’t be; it’s cute, like a little paddling pool. It’ll be beautiful when it’s fully grown.” He looked around at the mosaic-tiled walls, where a frieze depicted colourful fish gliding amongst streamers of seaweed. “You have a wonderful eye for detail.” He hesitated for a moment then gave in to curiosity. “If you don’t mind my asking, how do you grow?” It was a question he’d been meaning to ask for a while.
“It is not a particularly complicated process. Matter exists even in the vacuum of space. I can absorb stray particles, atoms and molecules, and manipulate them to grow whatever is required, but in space that takes a great deal of time. Growth will be faster when raw materials are more plentiful.”
“Like when you’re on a planet?”
“Yes. Then I will be able to absorb particles from the air around me and from the earth beneath me. Small, unwanted asteroids would be even better; they could be disintegrated and their component molecules absorbed, thereby allowing growth at a much faster rate.”
“Well, we should look into finding you an asteroid soon then.”
“That would be appreciated,” the TARDIS replied warmly.