Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, OFC.
Summary: Ianto and Jack are mystified, so Jack sets Owen the task of determining what it is.
Word Count: 1257
Written For: Challenge #115: Unidentified Object at fan_flashworks
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“What is it?” Jack asked, frowning. He’d seen a lot of disgusting things over the years, but this beat them all.
“I have no idea,” Ianto replied, wrinkling his nose. “To be honest, I don’t think I want to know.”
They stared at the greyish lump with identical expressions of loathing.
“It’s so horrible I can’t look away.” Jack sounded pained.
“I know what you mean. I’m scared that if I take my eyes off it, it might attack me. Or worse. Looking at it is bad enough, but not knowing whether or not it’s still there would be worse.”
Jack nodded. “Can’t be too careful around here.”
They were still staring silently at the hideous thing when they heard brisk footsteps followed by a cheery voice.
“Now then, Mr Jones, the nurse said you hadn’t touched your lunch. Are you not hungry?”
“Starving actually, but I make a point of not eating anything I can’t identify,” Ianto replied, not taking his eyes off his plate. “Tell me the truth, doctor, would you eat that?”
The doctor joined them and looked at the contents of Ianto’s plate. “The sad thing is, I’ve seen worse.”
“So have I, just not lurking on a plate pretending to be food. It should be put out of its misery.” Ianto flopped back against his pillows. “I broke my leg and now I’m being tortured with inedible food! There’s no justice in the world,” he whined. “This is all Owen’s fault.”
Jack gave an evil chuckle. “That gives me an idea.”
Ianto hitched up an eyebrow. “Do I want to know?”
“I’ll tell you later.” Jack dug in his pocket and pulled out a wrapped sandwich. “Here, you can have my lunch. I’ll bring you something for dinner this evening. This,” he reached for Ianto’s plate, “is coming with me,” and he slid the unidentified lump into the specimen box he’d pulled out of another pocket.
“You’re welcome to it,” Ianto mumbled around a mouthful of sandwich. “I like your lunch a lot better.”
“Enjoy. I’ll be back later.” Jack leant over, kissing Ianto on the forehead, and left him to eat. He waved the specimen box at the doctor. “If I find out what this is, I’ll let you know, just in case any of the other patients are curious about what they had for lunch. Oh, and if anyone’s lunch starts behaving suspiciously, give me a call.” In a swirl of coat, he swept through the door and was gone.
“Is he always like that?” the doctor asked with a laugh.
Ianto swallowed his mouthful of sandwich and shook his head. “He’s under orders to be on his best behaviour when he’s here. Normally he’s a lot more… colourful.”
“How to you put up with him?”
“I’ve had a lot of practice.”
Back at the Hub, Jack bounded down to the autopsy bay and dropped the specimen box in front of Owen.
“Here ya go, don’t say I never bring you anything!” He perched on the edge of Owen’s desk. “I want you to do a thorough workup on the contents,” he added, tapping the box. “Find out everything you can.”
Owen pulled the lid off the box and stared at what was inside. Picking up a pencil, he poked at the grey-brown lump.
“So what is it?”
“If I knew that, then I wouldn’t be asking you, would I? Anyway, be careful, I don’t trust it. I know it looks relatively harmless, but appearances can be deceptive. It could be lying doggo, trying to lull us into a false sense of security before attacking while our guard is down.”
Owen eyed Jack dubiously, unsure whether he was having him on or deadly serious. With Jack, it was often hard to be sure. Once a conman, always a conman.
“You think it might be alive?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me. Best to err on the side of caution with anything unknown, don’t you think? We’ve encountered stranger creatures.”
That was certainly true.
“Okay, you’re the boss.”
“I want a report on my desk before I go to see Ianto tonight.”
“Yeah, yeah, now get outta here so I can work.” There was nothing else going on and Owen had been catching up on paperwork when Jack had arrived. He was only too happy to have a good excuse for abandoning it; solving mysteries was infinitely preferable to writing up incident reports.
Putting the box on the autopsy table, Owen set a tray beside it and laid out his tools. With a pair of tongs, he grasped the specimen and set it on the tray, where he carefully took samples for testing. He measured it, photographed it, extracted fluids, took x-rays and did scans, painstakingly making notes until he eventually came to an inescapable conclusion: he’d been had!
Storming up to Jack’s office, he slammed his report down on the desk in front of the smirking captain.
“It’s a piece of cooked pork, you twat!”
“Pork? You’re sure? I never would’ve guessed. Any idea how the hospital kitchens managed to get it that precise unappealing greyish colour?”
“What’re you talkin’ about?”
“That’s what they served Ianto for lunch. It’s supposed to be edible.”
“Good God, what’re they trying to do, kill their patients? I mean yeah, it’s edible, more or less, but no one in their right mind would want to eat it.” Owen sat down heavily, too shocked to stay angry. “I think I need to arrange for a health inspection of the hospital kitchens, followed by a visit from an expert in nutrition. Junk food would be healthier than the free sample you’ve had me testing.”
“Sounds like a plan! You get on with that while I pick up something tasty for Ianto’s dinner. Only two more days and he’ll be home, where the food is identifiable.”
“Is he still blaming me?”
“Wouldn’t you if you were him?”
“Yeah, probably, but I didn’t know it would fall on him. I told everyone to get clear.”
“Which would’ve been fine if he’d been able to hear you, but his earpiece got broken when the creature tried to remove his head.”
“So what was this?” Owen brandished his report. “Revenge by proxy?”
“Kind of. At least it’ll give him a laugh when I tell him.”
“I hate you. And you can tell your boyfriend I hate him too,” Owen grumbled, shambling out of the office as Jack pulled his coat on.
“Oh, and Jack?”
“Tell Ianto to hurry up and heal. Starbucks coffee if crap.”
“Admit it, you just miss him.”
“Up yours, Harkness.”
Laughing, Jack headed off to the hospital.
“Seriously? That was pork?” Ianto asked incredulously as he tucked into steak pie and chips.
“According to all the tests Owen ran. You know he even x-rayed it to examine the skeletal structure it didn’t have? And he did a DNA comparison. I guess that’s how he found out the nature of the beast.”
“I wish I could’ve seen him doing an autopsy on my lunch,” Ianto chuckled.
“Don’t worry, I saved the CCTV footage, you can watch it once you’re home.”
“Thanks, Jack, you really know how to brighten my day.”
“I do my best. Now eat your dinner, there are fresh strawberries for dessert.”
Ianto smiled, counting his blessings. Good food and good company made all the difference. He’d be glad when he could go home, but as long as he didn’t have to endure any more unidentifiable hospital meals, maybe being here wasn’t so bad.