Title: Special Delivery
Characters: Ianto, Jack.
Summary: A mysterious package has arrived addressed to Jack, and it’s not the order he was expecting!
Word Count: 999
Written For: Prompt #011 – Handle With Care at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Deliveries to the Tourist Office entrance weren’t uncommon; there were regular shipments of new leaflets and souvenirs which helped to keep the little kiosk up-to-date and believable, as well as the occasional package from UNIT or Torchwood Two. This one, however, was a doozy.
The packing crate was a wooden cube, each side measuring about a metre, with big black arrows printed on the sides declaring ‘THIS WAY UP’ in no uncertain terms. The top had a series of air holes drilled in it, with red and white labels stuck over half of them informing anyone who might care that this was ‘LIVE CARGO – HANDLE WITH CARE’.
Since it was addressed to Jack, Ianto simply signed the receipt, thanked the three deliverymen it had taken to wrangle the thing along Mermaid Quay, and sent them on their way after having served them each a cup of his finest retcon-laced coffee. As soon as they left to return to their delivery van, Ianto locked the door, turned the sign to ‘Closed’, picked up the phone and called down to Jack.
“There’s a package just arrived for you, Sir.”
“Really? Well, just bring it with you when you come down to make coffee.”
“Sorry, Jack, no can do. It’s a bit big, I’m going to need a hand with it.”
“Hmmm, so it’s not what I ordered for us the other day?”
“I’ll be right up.”
A few minutes later, Jack stepped through the concealed door into the small office. “So where is this package? Oh.” He stared at the crate in bewilderment. “What the blazes is that?”
“I believe it’s called a crate,” Ianto informed him, deadpan.
“Very funny. I mean, what’s inside it?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. Possibly better.” Ianto held up an envelope he’d detached from the side of the crate. “Whatever it is, it’s addressed to you, and it’s from Glasgow.”
That could mean only one thing: it was a gift from Archie, the funny little Scotsman who ran Torchwood Two.
“Weren’t you just talking to Archie last week?” Ianto raised an eyebrow in question.
“I was, but…” Jack trailed off, a horrified expression crossing his face. “Oh no!” he groaned. “Please tell me he didn’t…” He snatched the envelope from Ianto’s hand, tore it open, and read the enclosed note.
‘Jack, thought you could give this wee laddie a home. He’ll bring a splash of colour to that dirty great pond of yours. Regards, Archie.
P.S. Say hello to Toshiko, tell her the computer runs like a dream now.’
Jack threw the crate a despairing look. “I thought he was joking!”
“You’ll see when we get it down to the Hub. We’ll need the anti-grav trolley.”
Half an hour later, they’d manhandled the crate into the lift, and out again at the bottom, manoeuvring it with some difficulty through the Hub and setting it down beside the Rift pool. Ianto produced a crowbar.
“You want to do the honours or shall I?”
“I’ll do it.” Carefully, Jack prised up the lid, removed it, then slid one of the sides up and out of its frame. There was another box inside, plastic, again with air holes in the top, and Jack unclipped the fastenings, two to a side, before lifting its lid off to reveal the contents. The container was part-filled with water, out of which stuck a rich blue serpentine neck with a small head on the end. It looked up at Jack, blinked in the light, and honked like a small foghorn.
Ianto’s eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. “Is that what I think it is?”
Jack chuckled. “No, she’s way too big and besides, she’s lived in Loch Ness for almost a century, she likes it there. Similar kind of thing though, just a much more compact, non-sentient subspecies. There used to be a small colony of them living in Loch Lomond; thought they’d all died out back in the Fifties until Archie found this one a few weeks ago, caught in a snare. It was injured, so he nursed it back to health, told me it would be just the thing for our pond.” He looked apologetically at Ianto. “I really thought he was joking or I would’ve told you.”
“So now we’re stuck with a miniature Loch Ness monster?”
“We could ship him back to Archie, but he doesn’t really have suitable facilities. He said he’d been keeping it in his bathtub.”
“That must have made bathing an interesting experience.” Ianto sighed. “Well, it’s here now, I suppose it had better stay. How do we get it into its new home?”
“Tip the container?”
As they tilted it, water began to spill out, flowing down the slight incline into the Rift pool. As soon as the creature caught sight of the expanse of water, it honked eagerly, floundered out of its crate, and scooted across the wet cement, propelled by four flat flippers. Moments later, it had dived in and all that was visible was the wake it left as it swam.
“What do they eat?”
“Algae and pond weed, according to Archie.”
“That’s good, plenty of that growing in the pool.”
“At least having him in there might save us having to do the annual clean-out.”
“We can hope. That’s one job none of us enjoys.” Watching the pool, which looked as empty as ever, Ianto smirked.
“I know that look.” Jack nudged his lover with an elbow. “What’re you thinking?”
“Oh, just wondering how long it’ll take the rest of the team to notice our new pet.”
Jack threw back his head and laughed. “You’re an evil man, Ianto Jones. Come on, we’d better clean up before they get in, don’t want to leave any telltale little clues to give the game away. My money’s on Owen to be the first; what about you?”
They shook hands to seal the deal then set to clearing up the evidence. This was going to be fun!