Title: Universal Truths
Characters: Ianto, Jack, OC.
Summary: Ianto’s night started off well enough, but now things are going from bad to worse.
Word Count: 2136
Written For: Challenge 29: Universal at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
There’s a universal truth that runs something along the lines of ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, usually spectacularly, and at the worst possible moment. It was most likely this truth that had led to him being in his current unenviable situation, Ianto thought gloomily. Either that or the universe had it in for him. It was always good to know where to place the blame, especially when your chances of survival looked like they were about to fall past zero into negative figures.
It had all started out so well too. A nice clear night, a routine Weevil hunt with Jack, just your average evening’s entertainment if you happened to be Torchwood Three’s Archivist, General Support Officer, and sometimes Field Agent. Right at this particular moment, Ianto rather wished he was someone else. This would be a good time to be Jack, with his handy ability to shrug off death.
They’d taken the SUV out to a rundown area of Cardiff, intent on driving a few straying Weevils back into the sewers where they belonged, and everything had been going smoothly until the Weevil they’d been chasing had become two Weevils. Well, not literally, they’d simply spooked a second one, which had been poking around in a pile of rubbish. The two Weevils had snarled at each other a bit, then taken off in different directions, meaning Jack and Ianto had to either pick one Weevil and ignore the other one, or split up. They probably should’ve gone for option one.
Ianto was as skilled as anyone at chasing down Weevils, and had done so alone on a number of occasions. There was no reason for this time to be any different to a dozen previous solo hunts. Jack had gone left, Ianto had gone right, and the chase had been back on, running flat out through the poorly lit, narrow streets and rubbish-strewn alleys. Weevils might look ungainly, but they could move pretty damned fast when they wanted to, especially if they were being chased.
It was only after he’d covered about half a mile from the spot where he and Jack had separated that things had started to go wrong, and they’d done so with a vengeance. One minute Ianto had been gaining on his Weevil, the next his right foot had slipped into a hole and he’d gone crashing to the ground, face down, knocking all the breath out of himself in the process.
His can of Weevil spray had skittered away across the uneven tarmac, and his bluetooth earpiece had popped loose from the impact. Naturally, the nearest streetlights weren’t working so he’d not been able to see where it had gone and feeling around as he caught his breath had failed to locate it. Worse, there’d been an ominous crunching sound when he’d landed and he was pretty sure it had been his phone. Even Tosh’s extensive modifications hadn’t rendered Torchwood’s mobiles immune when caught between hard tarmac and a falling body.
Wheezing painfully, Ianto had levered himself up into a sitting position, intending to get back on his feet and resume the chase, only to make another unpleasant discovery; apparently he didn’t need a medical degree to tell that his right ankle was broken. He wasn’t going anywhere, and with his phone smashed and earpiece missing, he couldn’t even call for help. Well, he could try yelling, but even if there did happen to be someone out in this part of town at past one in the morning, it probably wouldn’t be someone interested in being a Good Samaritan.
Naturally, that was when a new Weevil appeared.
This one was a big male, almost as tall as Ianto himself, although in his current position on the ground, he was looking up at it as it sidled out of the shadows, grunting and snarling. It kept its distance at first, wary, and Ianto reached for his Torchwood Special, only to find that his holster was empty. Damnit, that was Jack’s fault! When Ianto had been gathering his gear prior to beginning the hunt, Jack had grabbed his arse, groping him and derailing his thoughts to the point where he’d forgotten to get his weapon out of the glove compartment.
All he had to defend himself with was anything he could find within reach, and his tranquillizer kit in his inside breast pocket. Trying to load the syringe while fighting off a Weevil was unlikely to work, so he figured he’d better do that before the Weevil attacked. Pulling the slim leather case out, he unzipped it and groaned; the syringe was broken.
“Of course it is.” What else could possibly go wrong?
The Weevil snarled and advanced, growing bolder when Ianto made no move to produce a weapon or escape. It bared its teeth and prepared to rush him.
Ianto had always hoped that when his time was up, he’d go out in a suitably heroic fashion, saving the world, or sacrificing himself so that others might live. Getting mauled to death by an enraged Weevil just because he’d left his gun in the car was going to be an ignominious end. He’d fight back as best he could, of course, he had no intention of merely giving up, but he didn’t fancy his chances against that brute. A big bull Weevil was about half again as strong as an average man, and Ianto was acutely aware that being down on the ground and unable to stand because of his ankle put him at a serious disadvantage.
When a second weevil snarled behind him, Ianto knew for sure he was doomed. In a fight against one, there was still a chance that he might get lucky, but against two? Now he really wished that he hadn’t snapped at Jack earlier for groping him. Hell of a note to go out on; the last words of Ianto Jones would be, “Leave off, Jack; you can grope my arse later.” Not exactly inspiring, and not even true since there wasn’t going to be any later. No last minute escape, no dramatic rescue… Ianto hoped Jack had got his own Weevil without any mishaps. He’d never forgive himself if his lover had to revive alone because he wasn’t there to comfort him.
Picking up a broken length of wood, part of a smashed pallet, Ianto steeled himself to fight back until his last breath. Another snarl came from behind him, and then the second Weevil was barrelling past on his left, lunging at the big male. Well, if they were going to fight over him, at least that bought him a bit of time. Maybe he could MacGyver some kind of delivery system for the sedative using his pen and the broken syringe… He set to work, keeping half an eye on the fighting Weevils, and maybe it would even have worked if he’d had, say, another ten minutes to work on it. As it was, the battle was over in hardly more than five, the burly male abruptly cowering away from his attacker and making conciliatory noises before scuttling away.
On the bright side, Ianto supposed he was back in his original position, up against a single Weevil. This one was a female, smaller, wiry, but obviously a tough customer. Some people would say all Weevils looked alike, but Ianto had long since learned to tell them apart, and as the Weevil approached, he realised he’d seen this one before.
There’s another universal truth that says one good turn deserves another. On a hunt one night with Jack, Ianto had found an injured young Weevil and had sedated her to be taken back to the Hub. Owen had done a good job of patching her up, but as tending to the residents was part of Ianto’s job, he’d been the one who’d looked after her while she healed. He’d brought her little treats with her food to get her eating and build her strength back up, and sometimes he’d just stood outside her cell chatting to her. She’d been quite sociable for a Weevil and had always looked like she was listening. He’d called her Little Nell, and when she’d been fully healed, he’d been the one to release her back into the sewers. That had been two yeas ago.
“You’ve grown, Nell. Not so little any more. You look well.”
Nell sniffed at him and grunted, showing no sign of wanting to attack. Did she remember him, even after all this time? She moved away, returning a moment later warily nudging something along the ground with her foot until it fetched up against Ianto’s thigh; his Weevil spray. First she’d driven the bull Weevil away, now she was bringing him the equipment he’d dropped, even though she was obviously nervous about the spray.
“Thank you. I don’t suppose you know where my…” He touched his ear; how do you explain a comms. unit to an alien that doesn’t speak your language and knows nothing about technology? Stupid idea anyway.
Staring at him, Nell cocked her head to one side in thought, then looked around. Weevils had much better night vision than humans and she shambled a few paces away, picking something up and bringing it to where he sat, offering it on an outstretched hand. Amazingly it was his bluetooth; somehow she’d understood.
Holding his breath, Ianto reached to take it, and as soon as he had it between his fingers, Nell jerked her hand back and retreated a few steps. Ianto wiped the earpiece clean and popped it in his ear, clicking it on. “Jack?”
“Ianto! Where are you? I’ve been trying to reach you!”
“Sorry. I fell and lost my comms.”
“Oh. I’m heading back to the SUV. See you there?”
“Ah, sorry, but I think you’ll have to come and get me.”
“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” Jack sounded genuinely worried and it warmed Ianto’s heart.
“You could say that; I think my ankle’s broken.”
“Hold on, I’ll be there as fast as I can.” From the change in Jack’s breathing, Ianto could tell he was running now. “I’ll use the SUV’s tracker to locate you.” There was a beep as Jack sent the signal to unlock the car doors, then seconds later, the sound of the engine turning over. “On my way, should be with you in a few minutes. What happened to the Weevil you were chasing?”
“It got away when I put my foot in a hole I didn’t see.” Ianto decided not to tell Jack about the bull Weevil until later; no need to worry him more than he already was.
At the sound of the SUV’s engine, growing louder as it approached through the dark, deserted streets, Nell looked at Ianto questioningly.
“I’ll be fine now; you should go. Thank you.”
A quiet grunt, and Nell moved back into the shadows. Ianto had the oddest feeling that she planned to watch from hiding until she could be sure he was safe.
The SUV screeched to a halt a few feet from Ianto, and Jack leapt out, dropping to his knees beside him and hugging him tight for a moment before checking his ankle. “Yeah, definitely broken; I need to splint it before I move you.”
“I’ve got this.” Ianto offered his broken piece of wood.
“That’ll do it; I’ll get some bandages from the car.”
Adrenaline was starting to wear off, so having his ankle set and splinted was excruciating, but Ianto gritted his teeth and endured the pain, not wanting to risk having Nell rush to his defence and attack Jack. That wouldn’t do anyone any good. As soon as he was splinted, Jack scooped him off the ground and deposited him in the back seat of the SUV with his injured leg up.
“I’ll drive carefully so you don’t fall off.”
“That would be appreciated,” Ianto commented wryly. “I don’t want to break anything else.” As Jack climbed back into the driver’s seat and turned the SUV to head back to the Hub, putting a call through to Owen to meet them there, Ianto decided that maybe the universe didn’t hate him quite as much as he’d thought. Just when he’d believed he was doomed, help had come from an unexpected source. It made him wonder if perhaps the ability to show compassion and kindness towards another person was a universal trait among sentient species. Perhaps when humanity made it out into space, they’d find they had more friends than they could have imagined, and who knew? If he kept on being this lucky, maybe Ianto would live long enough to at least see the people of earth take their first steps in that direction. Wouldn’t that be something? Despite everything he’d been through, the thought made him smile.