Title: Midnight Rescue
Characters/Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Mickey, Andy, mentions of Owen.
Rating: PG-13 for minor language
Spoilers: None. Set after Exit Wounds and Doctor Who, Journey's End, but everyone's still alive and the team has been expanded.
Summary: Jack arrives to rescue Ianto. Follows on from The Beauty Of Trees
Word Count: 2441
Warnings: Some violence I guess.
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood or any of the characters. It all belongs to the BBC.
A/N: All comments gratefully received, they encourage me to write more. So if you can spare a moment, please let me know what you think.
Ianto’s phone vibrated in his pocket, dragging him out of his dreamy reverie. He checked the caller i.d. and answered.
“Hey, you still okay?”
“Yep, fine. Where are you?”
“About five minutes away. What’s your friend doing?”
“Still sniffing around the tree.”
“Good. I’ll be there soon.”
“Jack, listen to me. I may not know what this creature is, but I know two things about it: It’s fast and it’s hungry. You’re only going to get one chance with the tranq gun. You know I don’t advocate killing, I never agreed with London’s policy, but if you miss, or if it doesn’t go down, you’ll have to use your Webley and shoot to kill.”
“Jack, just listen for once. I know if you die you’ll come back, but this thing won’t just kill you, and I really don’t want to test whether or not you’d come back from being eaten. I’m unarmed, there’d be nothing I could do.”
“Understood,” Jack said soberly, “One shot with the tranq gun, then shoot to kill.”
“Thank you. I’ll do what I can to distract it, but once it notices you…”
“It’ll come after me as the easier meal. Okay, let’s do this, but Ianto…?”
“Don’t put yourself in any danger.”
“Oh, believe me, I won’t. I’ve seen its teeth!”
Jack approached slowly, keeping downwind of the creature so that it wouldn’t smell him. The photo Ianto had sent via his phone had been grainy, but still clear enough for Jack to see that this was something he didn’t want to get up close and personal with, not if it could be avoided. He moved stealthily, keeping out of sight as much as he could, until he could see the creature clawing at the base of a tree some 20 metres away; Ianto was in the lower branches, staying well clear of the snapping jaws but keeping the creature’s attention firmly fixed on him.
Jack crept closer, keeping behind some bushes, 12 metres away now. He checked the tranquilizer gun and raised it to take aim, the full moon providing enough light to see by even though the park appeared as if it had been painted in shades of black and silver.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly and Jack was just starting to pull the trigger when raucous, drunken laughter cut through the stillness. The creature’s head snapped around, ears twisting back and forth to determine the direction the sounds were coming from. Jack fired, but it was a split second too late as the creature growled low in its throat and leapt toward the drunken revellers, powerful haunches propelling it forward in ground-eating bounds. Jack cursed and dropped the tranq gun, drawing his Webley and lunging from cover, shouting as loudly as he could. The creature skidded to a halt, heavy head swinging back and forth as it tried to decide which prey to go after. That was all Jack needed - he levelled the Webley and fired three shots in quick succession; the first two hit his target in the neck, causing it to lunge towards him. It managed three huge leaps before Jack’s final shot hit it right between the eyes and it crashed to the ground.
The gang of rowdy teenagers continued on their way through the park, not even seeming to notice the commotion. One more occasion when the regular folk of Cardiff were saved from imminent death without ever being aware their lives had been in danger in the first place.
Jack cautiously approached the creature, keeping his gun aimed steadily at it, wary in case it was still alive. There was no movement, no breath and its eyes stared blankly at nothing, the spark of life absent. He sighed heavily, holstering the Webley and crouching beside the corpse of what had once been a magnificent beast. A hand touched his shoulder and he looked up into Ianto’s eyes, mirroring the sorrow he knew filled his own. The alien creature had found itself stranded on earth through no fault of its own - it was a predator, designed by nature to hunt and kill for its own survival, but here it was a threat that had to be eliminated, no matter how much it hurt them both to take its life. There really hadn’t been any other choice.
Slowly, Jack rose to his feet, wrapping his arms tightly around his partner, feeling Ianto’s arms slide around his waist inside his coat. They stood there in silence for several minutes, just holding each other, listening to the soft breeze rustling through leaves and the distant hoot of a hunting owl. Sometimes words were unnecessary. They understood each other well enough by now that each knew instinctively what the other was feeling.
“That was too close,” Ianto said eventually, his voice muffled against Jack’s shoulder.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, “I know you said it was fast, but…” Jack pulled back to look at his lover. “I don’t know how you managed to get away from it and up that tree!”
“Neither do I! I’ve never run so fast in my life! Amazing what you can do when you have something like that practically breathing down your neck.” Ianto shuddered and Jack pulled him close again.
“I’m just glad you’re safe.”
“Mmmm, you too.” After a moment, Ianto lifted his head. “As much as I’m enjoying this, we really need to do something about Fang here, I think we’re going to need some help moving it. Not sure it’ll even fit in the SUV.”
“I’m pretty sure it won’t,” Jack agreed, “I’ll call Mickey, have him bring his van and pick up Andy on the way. We’ll get it back to the Hub and Owen can do the autopsy in the morning.”
While Jack called Mickey and arranged for the pick-up, Ianto knelt beside the dead predator and studied it. Bigger than a bear, it had a body as powerful as a bull’s with a short, thick neck to support the heavy head. Four sturdy legs ended in large paws, each with three thick, forward-pointing, claws, designed more for traction on hard ground than for killing its prey. It didn’t need them for that anyway, the wide jaws held a double row of razor sharp 3 inch long teeth which, combined with the muscular jaws themselves, could probably bite through just about anything. A heavy, hairless tail protruded from the creature’s rump, providing a counterbalance which would help it stay balanced when changing direction at speed. It wasn’t beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but it was perfectly adapted for its role in the ecosystem of whichever planet it came from.
Having collected the tranq gun from where he’d dropped it, and retrieved the spent dart from the tree trunk, Jack crouched down beside Ianto.
“Not going to win any beauty contests, is it?”
“Doesn’t need to. Form follows function - it’s designed to hunt and kill, and there’s no denying it’s good at that. We’re lucky it didn’t kill anyone. If the rift had dumped it in the park during the day…”
“That would have been a disaster, I guess we got lucky. Mickey‘s on his way, should be here in about 20 minutes.”
“Good,” Ianto said with a sigh. There was silence for a moment, neither of them knowing quite what to say, then Ianto’s stomach growled loudly. They looked at each other and cracked up, helpless laughter banishing their sorrow over the necessary execution.
When they finally managed to stop laughing and straightened up, Jack rummaged through the pockets of his greatcoat, finally fishing out a rather squashed, but thankfully still wrapped, Mars bar.
“Here, sorry it’s a bit squashed, I think I might have sat on it. It’s not much, but it’ll keep you going until we’ve got the body loaded. Once Mickey’s on his way back to the Hub with it, I’ll treat you to fish and chips.”
Oddly touched, Ianto accepted the chocolate.
“Thanks,” he said with a smile as he unwrapped it, “Will the chip shop still be open this late?”
“Not sure,” Jack admitted, “It’s Friday night, so it might be. A lot of the takeaway places seem to stay open later on Fridays and weekends to catch the extra customers when the clubs close. If not, there‘s a 24 hour supermarket not far from here, we can get something there.”
Silence fell again as Ianto made short work of the chocolate. Jack checked his watch.
“Mickey should be here soon. I said I’d meet him at the SUV.”
Ianto nodded. “I’ll wait here. I don’t imagine anyone else is wandering around the park at this time of night, but just in case I’m wrong…”
“When are you ever wrong?” Jack teased.
“I have been known to be, on rare occasions,” Ianto replied, grinning. “Go on, you don’t want to keep Mickey waiting. The sooner we get finished here, the better.”
Jack pulled him close for a long kiss, finally pulling back and licking his lips. “Mmmm, you taste of chocolate.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Go, or we’ll be too late for fish and chips and then I won’t taste of vinegar later!”
Jack flashed his trademark grin, “Can’t wait!” Then he turned and headed off at a run across the moon-washed park, coat flying out behind him dramatically like a superhero‘s cape.
Ianto snorted softly to himself. “Show off.”
It wasn’t long before Ianto spotted headlights slowly approaching. Mickey manoeuvred his black van as close as he could, reversing to within a few feet of the dead alien. Jack joined Ianto and the two of them opened the van’s rear doors as Mickey and Andy climbed down from the front.
Mickey let out a low whistle as he got his first good look at the alien.
“Damn, that’s big. Ugly, too. Think it’s as heavy as it looks?”
“Only one way to find out,” Ianto said with a wry grin.
Andy dropped a large tarpaulin on the grass beside the corpse and spread it out.
“See if we can roll it onto this and then load it in the back, keep the van clean.”
Ianto nodded, “Good thinking.”
The creature was bulky and unwieldy, but between them they managed to roll it onto the tarp, wrap it up and tie it securely with rope so it looked rather like a very large parcel. Lifting it was another matter. After several failed attempts, they stood there panting, wiping sweat from their foreheads with handkerchiefs and sleeves.
“This is hopeless,” Andy groaned, “We’ll never shift the bloody thing!”
“We need more people to help,” Jack agreed.
Ianto looked around, studying the lay of the land. “Maybe not,” he said thoughtfully. “We’ve already proved we can roll it, should be easier now it’s wrapped up, and the ground slopes a bit towards the botanical gardens. They’re lower by two or three feet, there’s a retaining wall, dropping down to wide paths between the flower beds. If Mickey can reverse up to the wall, we can roll it down the slope and straight into the back of the… Mmmpppfff!”
Jack grabbed Ianto and kissed him hard. “You are brilliant! I don’t tell you that nearly often enough.”
“No, you don’t,” Ianto agreed with a smirk.
“Let’s do it.” Mickey clapped his hands together.
“You’ll have to drive around to the other side of the gardens, come in from that side. The paths should be easily wide enough for the van. I’ll scout out the best route, meet you at the other side and direct you,” Ianto said.
“Meanwhile, Andy and I will see if we can start rolling this down the slope,” Jack poked the large bundle with his toe. “You two can help once the van’s in position.”
Plan agreed on, they set to work.
Rolling the gift-wrapped alien was possible with just the two of them, but by no means easy. Even so, by the time the van was in position and Ianto and Mickey had rejoined them, they’d managed to get it almost halfway. The remaining distance was covered much more quickly with all four of them working together, and soon they were shoving their burden off the edge of the wall and into the rear of the van, which dipped noticeably under the weight. They sighed with relief as they straightened up, rubbing their backs.
“Mission accomplished,” Jack said with satisfaction. “Now all you two need to do is drive it back to the Hub. I’ll have Owen meet you there with the big, reinforced gurney. The three of you should be able to roll it out of the van onto that, then it can be left in the cold room overnight.”
“What will you two be doing?” Andy asked. “On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.”
Jack laughed. “Ianto missed dinner, so we’re going to find something to eat. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
Andy shut and secured the van’s rear doors while Mickey started the engine, then he climbed into the passenger seat. Once the van was on its way, Jack and Ianto started the trek back to the SUV, stopping twice along the way. First to check the ground where the creature died for traces of alien blood - there was surprisingly little of the thin, yellowish fluid; most of it seemed to have already soaked into the ground, so cleanup didn’t take long - then Ianto made a brief stop at the tree which had saved his life.
He studied the claw marks marring the trunk for a moment, then looked up thoughtfully into the branches.
“This is a good tree. In fact, as of tonight, I think it’s my favourite tree.” He glanced over his shoulder at Jack. “I’ll have to come back here sometime in daylight, I think the view will be even more spectacular then.”
Jack looped his arms around Ianto’s waist from behind, resting his chin on the Welshman‘s shoulder. “Trees definitely have their uses,” he mused. “I think I’ve gained a new respect for them.” He nipped gently at the side of Ianto’s neck before stepping back and taking his hand. “Come on, if we hurry we might still make it to the chip shop before they close for the night.”
Ianto’s stomach grumbled approval at the thought. “Mmmm, haddock and extra chips with loads of vinegar!”
“Oh yeah!” Jack agreed, “With vinegar flavoured Ianto for dessert!”
Laughing, they set off once more towards the car park, their strides getting longer and faster until they were running, their laughter trailing behind them on the night breeze.