Title: Ianto Branches Out
Characters: Ianto, Jack
Summary: Something odd has happened to Ianto, but explaining to Jack is proving a tad difficult.
Word Count: 913
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Well, this was certainly different. Ianto was pleased to find that he was still capable of thought, despite being rather… wooden. He flexed his arms, finding the sensation it caused rather weird. There seemed to be so many of them. ‘Branches,’ he thought. ‘I have branches now, not arms.’ Alien tech really was full of surprises. ‘Always wondered what if would feel like to be a tree. It’s odd.’
“Ianto? Ianto! Where’d you go?”
That was Jack, and Ianto wasn’t so much hearing his voice as feeling it in the vibrations of the air. He shook his branches, making the leaves rustle even though there was no wind. It was raining; he could feel the drops pattering down on his leaves, cool and refreshing. Nice weather for a tree. Jack obviously didn’t agree, because he ran for shelter beneath Ianto’s spreading branches, staring worriedly out into the now pouring rain.
He tapped his bluetooth earpiece. “Ianto? Can you hear me?”
It took a bit of concentration, but Ianto managed to lower one of his branches enough to reach the top of Jack’s head and clonk him one. After all, this was Jack’s fault and he’d better fix it. “We’ll split up, Ianto,” he’d said. “The search will go much faster that way, we’ll be on our way back to the Hub long before the rain starts.”
Instead, now Ianto was a tree. At least now he didn’t mind getting wet, but that wasn’t really the point. He didn’t want to stand around out here for the rest of his life.
The bop on the head got Jack’s attention. “Ow! What the hell?” He moved away and looked suspiciously at the branch. Ianto waggled it. Most trees don’t do things like that, not without the assistance of a strong wind anyway.
“That’s not normal. What are you? Some kind of shape-shifter?” Jack pulled his gun and that really wasn’t the response Ianto was hoping for. “If you’ve hurt Ianto…”
How to make Jack understand? That might prove tricky. Ianto wished he could still roll his eyes. Or speak; that would be more useful. All he could do was shake his branches in frustration and point at the device sitting by his feet. Well, his trunk now.
Eyeing the tree warily, Jack approached the device and reached for it. Ianto stopped him with a well-placed branch. It wouldn’t do for Jack to get turned into a tree as well; then they’d really be in trouble.
Jack tried to get around the branch and found his path blocked again. And again. Straightening up, he glared at the tree. “What’s the point of showing me something and then not letting me near it?”
Ianto shook his branches and bopped Jack over the head again. Maybe that would knock some sense into him. It was a long shot, but it seemed to work, comprehension started to dawn. “Ianto? Is that you?”
Ianto waved a branch.
“Oh.” Jack holstered the Webley. “Looking a little green there!”
“Okay, sorry, bad joke.” Jack approached the box again, and once more a branch got in his way. This time Jack patted it. “It’s okay Ianto, I won’t touch it. I just need to look.”
Ianto moved his branch and let him.
Crouching, Jack studied the box carefully. Then pulling a plastic pen out of his coat pocket, he pressed it against a sort of switch on the side and a low hum that Ianto had only been vaguely aware of abruptly cut off. Ianto overbalanced and sat down hard. Suddenly he felt very wet and rather cold. Rain might suit trees just fine, but people prefer to be dry.
“There you are!” Jack was smiling brightly despite the rain now dripping from his hair. “Come on, better get you back the SUV where you can dry off a bit. I’ll come back with a containment box for that.” He pointed at the innocuous little box then held out his hand to pull Ianto to his feet. Together, they ran as fast as they could across the field to the only other shelter around.
Back at the SUV, Ianto stripped out of his wet suit, dumping it inside on the floor, climbed into the back seat, and dried himself off with one of the towels that were among the standard equipment that went everywhere with them, before pulling on dry clothes. By the time he was done, Jack was back and stowing the containment box in the boot.
“Feel better now?”
“Much better thanks.”
“So, what was it like being a tree?”
Ianto considered the question. “Not bad really, but I think on the whole I prefer being a person. It’s a lot easier to communicate this way.”
Jack laughed and rubbed his head. “I don’t know about that, I think you managed to get your point across well enough.”
“Eventually. You took a while to catch on.”
“Yeah, sorry about that but it’s not every day I get clobbered by a tree. You were a very nice tree though, a Welsh Oak if I’m not mistaken.”
“Of course. Only the best,” Ianto smirked.
“So, ready to go home?”
Ianto nodded. “I think so, yes. I’ve had enough of nature for one day.”
Jack started the SUV and turned the heater on high. Time to get back to the Hub where he could check Ianto for any residual effects from being a tree. After all, you could never be too careful.