Title: Like A Cork In A Bottle
Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Gwen, Tosh
Summary: Ianto’s not having a good day. Why does he listen to Jack?
Word Count: 1343
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, any, Stuck like a cork in a bottle,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Ianto couldn’t believe it. As if his dignity weren’t battered and shredded enough already, this was just the last straw. He knew damned well he hadn’t put on weight; in fact he was looking rather svelte these days, thank you very much. Not that it was helping right at this moment.
“Ianto?” Jack’s voice had an echo to it caused by the pipe. “How’s it going?”
He wriggled a bit, but it was no good. He was going to have to admit it.
“It’s not, and neither am I.”
“I’m stuck, Jack. Wedged like a cork in a bottle. I told you this was a bad idea, but would you listen? Of course not. ‘You’re slim, Ianto, I bet you could get through the air duct easily,’ you said. Why do I even bother listening to you? All you do is get me into a worse mess than I’m already in!”
“Okay, don’t panic. Just stay put and we’ll get you out.”
“We? May I remind you that you’re still stuck in the room we were trapped in? We don’t even know where the rest of the team are.”
They’d split into two pairs to search the disused hospital building floor by floor while Tosh monitored communications from the Hub. Gwen and Owen had gone upstairs while Ianto and Jack had searched the ground floor before venturing into the dark basement, where their quarry had ambushed them and locked them inside a small room. That had been Jack’s fault too; he’d been too busy staring at Ianto’s arse to pay proper attention to their surroundings and had been knocked unconscious by one of the blowfish they were after before he even knew they were there.
Then Ianto had felt the muzzle of a gun against the back of his head and had decided it would be prudent to do as he was told rather than risk getting his head blown off. Jack’s head would probably grow back, but Ianto doubted that the same was true for him. He’d been shoved into the room with an unconscious Jack, and heard the door slam and lock behind him.
Even that might not have been so bad, but when Jack came to a few minutes later they found they couldn’t get reception on either their bluetooth headsets or their phones, which meant they had no way of calling for help. Which had led to Jack having the brilliant idea that Ianto should escape through the air duct and get help. For all the good that had done them.
“Ah, about that. You’ll never guess…” Jack’s voice trailed off.
“Spit it out, Jack, I’m not in the mood.”
“Owen and Gwen caught the blowfish. They took a big bunch of keys off one of them, and they should have the door open as soon as they figure out which key fits the lock.”
“Of all the stupid… So help me, Jack, when I get out of here you’re going to be on instant decaf for life! Which won’t be long, because I am going to kill you!” The last words were shouted at such a volume that Ianto practically deafened himself with the echo from the pipe he was wedged in.
“I’m sorry,” Jack tried, sounding as apologetic as he could manage.
“You will be!”
Ianto heard a distant scuffling sound, then Owen’s voice came clearly through the pipe.
“You’re an idiot, Harkness!”
“You tell him, Owen.”
“You’re no better, Teaboy, why the fuck do you listen to ‘im?”
“I’ve been asking myself the same thing. Enough talk, how about getting me out of here?”
“Tosh is checking the building’s blueprints to see where the pipe you’re in leads.” That was Gwen’s voice. “How far along did you get? I can’t even see your feet!”
“The pipe curves slowly, I think I’m about ten metres in. It was easy at first, but it must get narrower.”
”What’s stuck?” Owen asked.
”Figures. They’re the widest part of the body for most people.”
Gwen spoke again. “Bad news guys, Tosh says the pipe Ianto’s in passes through solid concrete until it reaches the outer wall. Someone will have to go in and pull him out backwards.”
“Oh joy.” Ianto’s voice was muffled, but they could still clearly hear the sarcasm.
“Don’t look at me! I’m wider than Ianto, that’s why he went in instead of me.” In his head, Ianto could picture Jack with his hands raised in mock surrender. “Gwen’s the smallest of us here.”
”I wouldn’t be strong enough though.”
”You don’t ‘ave to be. All you ‘ave to do is take this rope in and tie it around Teaboy’s middle, not too tight though, don’t want to cut off the blood supply to his brain.”
“I heard that! Up yours, Owen!”
“Yeah, yeah. Keep yer knickers on,” Owen called into the pipe before turning his attention back to Gwen. “Tie it so the knot’s in the middle of ‘is back, then slide back out and we’ll all pull. It’ll be like a tug o’ war.”
“This gets better and better,” Ianto groaned.
A Few minutes later, he felt hands groping along his legs.
“Sorry, Ianto, I can’t see very well.”
“That’s alright, Gwen, too late to worry about my dignity anyway. OW!”
“Sorry, got to lie on your legs to reach your waist. You’ve got long legs for a man.”
“So my tailor tells me.”
Hands tickled at his waist and Ianto stopped talking, struggling not to laugh. He’d left his jacket and waistcoat with Jack in the little room they’d been locked in so the only thing between Ianto’s ribs and Gwen’s fingers was his thin cotton shirt. Once again, Ianto found himself cursing the fact that he was so ticklish in that area. He bit his lip hard and tried to keep from squirming. Finally the rope was tied, firmly but not too tight around him. The pressure on his legs decreased, then vanished altogether as Gwen wriggled her way backwards along the pipe and out into the room.
“Okay, Teaboy, you ready?”
“Right. On three, I want you to pull in your shoulders as much as you can, breathe out, and we’ll pull as hard as we can. Okay?”
“One, two, three!”
Ianto scrunched his shoulders in and breathed out hard as he felt the rope around his middle go taut, tugging at his hips. For a moment, nothing else happened and in desperation he tried to squeeze his shoulders in a few millimetres more. Then suddenly he was moving, just a little at first, then more as he slid backwards a few inches. Another heave on the rope and his shoulders were free. He started to use his hands to help propel himself backwards and a couple of minutes later, felt hands grab his ankles.
“Gotcha!” Jack sounded relieved. He hauled Ianto the rest of the way out, stood him on his feet, and hugged him so tightly he could barely draw breath.
“Jack! Can’t breathe!”
“Sorry!” Jack loosened his grip a little but didn’t let go, and Ianto leant against his captain, breathing in the spicy aroma of 51st century pheromones, legs a little weak with relief at being free.
“Are you alright? I was scared you’d be stuck in there forever.”
“I’m fine, just dusty and a bit sore. This doesn’t mean you’re forgiven, you know,” he added as he wrapped his arms around Jack.
“I know. Doesn’t matter, as long as you’re safe you can punish me however you see fit.”
“Very generous of you,” Ianto replied dryly. He straightened up a little. “Now if no one minds, I’d like to get back to the Hub for a shower and a stiff drink.”
“We’ve got a couple of blowfish to lock up too,” Owen reminded them.
“Good point. No rest for Torchwood!” Ianto sighed.
Wasn’t that the truth? As bizarre as some elements of the day might seem, when you got right down to it, it was just business as usual for Torchwood.