Title: Riddle Me This
Characters: Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen & Gwen
Summary: Ianto’s got a problem at home and needs the team’s help.
Word Count: 1021
Written For: mtxref_fic’s prompt ‘Torchwood, team+any, "What has four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? I don't know, but I trapped it in my bedroom. Send help." -- Welcome to Night Vale’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Jack picked up his phone on the third ring.
“Jack, thank God.”
“Ianto! Isn’t it your day off?”
“It is, but I have a quick question… What has four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?"
"Ooh a riddle! I like riddles, let's see..."
"Jack, I'm serious! I was hoping you might know, because I’ve been chasing the bloody thing around the house and I finally trapped it in my bedroom, but now I think it's eating the bed. Or possibly trying to mate with it, I'm not sure; it's hard to tell. Whatever. Send help. Please! While at least some of my home is still intact!" The line went dead and Jack was left sitting there, phone to his ear, listening to the dial tone.
“Huh. Didn’t even give me a chance to answer.”
Jumping to his feet, Jack holstered his Webley, grabbed his coat and the keys to the SUV, and strode from his office.
“Saddle up, kids, we have an emergency situation over at Ianto’s house.”
“What kind of emergency?” Tosh asked, grabbing her gun from her drawer and slipping her jacket on.
“Not entirely sure,” Jack admitted. “Something about a weird creature that’s destroying the place. He’s trapped it in the bedroom, but he was a bit agitated and hung up before I could ask questions.”
“Do we have a description?” Owen asked, tugging on his leather jacket.
“Not much of one, just that the number of legs seems to vary according to the time of day. Makes me wonder just how long Ianto’s been chasing it and why he didn’t call in sooner.”
“I’ll start researching possibilities as soon as we’re in the SUV,” Tosh decided.
“I’d better grab my medical kit, just in case.” Owen hurried to fetch it from the autopsy bay.
Gwen jogged up from the armoury, loaded with equipment.
“Thought these might be a good idea.” She handed out tranquilliser guns and handed Jack the portable cell. “Do we even know how big this thing is?”
“Big enough that according to Ianto it’s trying to either eat or mate with his bed.”
“So probably pretty big?”
“Size of a large dog at least, I expect.”
“I’ll grab the nets.”
When they arrived at Ianto’s neat little detached house, which he was still in the process of decorating in his spare time having only moved in a couple of months earlier, they could hear banging and cursing even before they reached the front door.
“Whatever it is, it must be lively!” Jack commented, grinning. He’d been bored silly doing paperwork, this was much more fun. Tosh had failed to come up with any definitive identification; surprisingly, variable numbers of legs turned out to be quite common. However, all of the species on her list of possibilities had one thing in common: shape-shifting capabilities. Shape shifters of all kinds were notoriously difficult to catch, for a variety of reasons.
Jack let the team in with his key, quickly shutting and locking the front door behind them, just in case.
Trooping up the stairs, they found their colleague valiantly struggling to hold his bedroom door closed against something that was trying to pull it open. He was red faced and sweating, holding on to the door handle with both hands, feet braced against the skirting board.
“Thanks for getting here so fast,” he gasped.
“You hung up on me!” Jack pouted.
“I dropped the phone, Jack! I was kind of busy trying to keep it from escaping!”
“Oh. Okay then. When I tell you to, let go of the door handle and get clear. We don’t really know what we’re dealing with.”
“Fine with me, just don’t take long. My arms are just about being pulled from their sockets.”
Jack ordered Owen and Gwen to stand either side of the door, the net stretched between them. Tosh, armed with a tranq gun, stood across the landing ready to tranquillise the creature as soon as it was netted. Jack stood beside Owen, so he could drag Ianto clear if necessary.
“Everybody ready? NOW,” Jack barked out.
Ianto let go of the door handle, collapsing in a heap as he tried to jump clear on cramped, numb legs. Jack dragged him out of the way as the door opened inwards very suddenly. There was a mad scrabbling sound followed by a thud as whatever had been trying to pull the door open apparently hit the wall with an audible ‘oof’. Everyone winced. More scrabbling followed and as the creature made a lunge for freedom, Tosh fired once, Owen and Gwen dropped the net over whatever it was and suddenly there was silence.
“Got it!” Gwen cried triumphantly, just in case anyone hadn’t noticed.
“Well done, people,” Jack grinned proudly.
He helped Ianto to his feet and took a few minutes to dust him off, checking for damage.
“Oi! You can grope your boyfriend later,” Owen grumbled from where he sat on the creature. “I don’t plan on sitting here all day while you two play tonsil hockey!”
“Spoilsport,” Jack muttered. “Okay, let’s see what we’ve got.”
It was about the size of a St Bernard, had shaggy black fur, rather like the rug Ianto had found for the living room…
“Ianto, isn’t that your new rug?”
“Yep,” Ianto sighed. “I’d been wondering why it never seemed to be in quite the same place when I got home. Thought I must be imagining it.” He glanced into his bedroom. “Oh great. I think the bed’s knackered.” It was listing sideways and even as they looked at it, a leg fell off.
“Oh yeah, definitely had it. Don’t worry, I’ll help you pick out a new one tomorrow.” Jack sounded quite eager, although for some reason Ianto didn’t seem to find the offer particularly comforting. “Come on, let’s get this thing back to the Hub, see if we can figure out what it is.”
“So much for my day off,” Ianto sighed wearily.
“I’ll make it up to you,” Jack promised.
“I know. That’s what I’m worried about.”