Characters: Jack, Ianto.
Summary: Jack had never been this deep in the bowels on the Hub before. How was he going to find his way back?
Word Count: 1546
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Any, lost in the Hub,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
The Hub is a very big place, it could even be described as vast; there are multiple levels, most of them deep underground, with passageways that stretch for what seems like miles, and could well be. Smaller corridors branch off them, with doors leading to veritable mazes of rooms. Sometimes, Jack wonders just how far the place spreads.
When he was first brought here by Alice and Emily, way back at the beginning of the Twentieth Century, he was confined in a dank cell on one of the lowest levels, but still close to ‘civilisation’ because the ladies didn’t want to trek for miles to play with their new toy.
After he agreed to work for Torchwood, he never went down that far again because of the unpleasant memories and the stench of old blood, much of it his own. That level was mainly used for the torture and interrogation of captured aliens, and for vivisection experiments. Torchwood had been very tight knit back then with One giving the orders and Three loyally carrying them out. Things have changed a lot since then.
Over time, Jack had gained more freedom of movement, both within the organisation and the Hub itself. He’d learned his way around the areas that saw the most use, and familiarised himself with emergency exits, bunkers, auxiliary generators, the things that could mean the difference between life and death in the event of alien invasion or some kind of cataclysmic event. He’d never explored the full extent of the Hub though, he always had more pressing duties and when he’d been bequeathed the leadership at Alex’s death, his workload had only increased.
Ianto, on the other hand, probably knew every inch of the base and its multitude of tunnels, rooms, and staircases. He must have done a lot of exploring before selecting the perfect unused room in which to store what he’d still mistakenly believed was his girlfriend. He might even have created a map of the place; he was very thorough.
Not that any of that helped Jack right at that moment. If there was a Ianto-created map, Jack didn’t have it, and he didn’t have Ianto either. He had his bluetooth earpiece with him, but he was so deep in the earth that it might not be able to receive a signal though the intervening rock, even if there was someone on the other end, which there currently wasn’t. Jack knew; he’d already tried to get an answer twice.
Maybe he should’ve waited for the rest of the team to get in, but that sneaky little monster he’d caught last night had given him the slip when he’d tried to shut it in one of the cells and he’d given chase without thinking. He’d been hard on its heels to start with, if it could be said to have heels, but it had been a lot faster and more manoeuvrable than he was, no doubt something to do with having more legs and a lower centre of gravity.
He’d lost sight of it half an hour ago, but kept going, trying to follow it by sound alone. That hadn’t worked; there were too many echoes down here, making it impossible to be sure which direction sounds were coming from. Anyway, the only sounds he could hear now were his own footsteps, and his laboured breathing from all the running he’d been doing.
So, here he was, no sign of the creature and no idea which direction to go. Might as well admit it; he was lost. It was a good thing he’d still had his torch in his coat pocket because there were no lights this far down. At least it meant he could see where he was going, for all the good that did him.
He leant against the wall with a sigh. He was at an intersection of five tunnels and didn’t have the faintest idea which one to take. In theory, going back the way he’d come would be the sensible thing to do, but he’d been following tunnels at random and for all he knew, he could be going around in circles.
When the voice sounded in his ear, he almost jumped out of his skin.
“Jack? Are you there?”
Jack fumbled for his bluetooth and clicked the button to reply. “Ianto! I’ve never been so glad to hear those Welsh vowels!” The relief in his voice was audible.
“Are you okay? Is something wrong?”
“Um, you could say that. I seem to be a bit lost. Just a little tiny bit,” he added quickly.
“Lost? You know Cardiff at least as well as I do!”
“Which would be great if I was out on the streets of our fair city, but I’m not.”
“Where exactly are you?”
“If I knew that, I wouldn’t be lost!” Jack could almost hear Ianto’s eye roll at that. “I’m in the lower levels of the Hub somewhere. Don’t think I’ve ever been this far down before,” he admitted sheepishly.
“And what did you go down there for?”
“I caught an alien earlier and it escaped as I was putting it in a cell.”
“At least tell me you caught it again.”
“Sorry, that would be a no. It was way too fast.”
Ianto sighed. “Of course it was. Okay, I have a map of the Hub, tell me where you are and I’ll guide you out.”
“I don’t know!”
“Well look around you, what do you see?”
“I’m at an intersection of five tunnels.”
“Right, now facing the intersection but staying in your tunnel, look at the wall on your right; you should see a coloured number and a symbol painted at approximately head height.”
“Okay, I see it. There’s a red circle with C 97 written inside it.”
“Good, that means you’re on level 20 south, in corridor 97. If you go straight across the intersection, 97 continues on the other side. Follow it until you reach the intersection with corridor 85 then turn left and follow 85 until you see a staircase on your right; that’ll take you up five levels.”
“Got it.” Jack set off, following Ianto’s instructions, found the stairs and panted his way to the top. “I’m here; now what?”
“Turn left into C 82 and keep going until you reach the junction with C 54. Take a left and follow 54 until it divides, then take 33. You’ll come to a staircase on your left; go up eight flights, that’ll get you to level seven.”
“This place is like a maze!”
“You have no idea! Staircases bypass entire levels, sometimes you have to go up one, then find another staircase and go down a few levels, before you can go back up again.”
It took Jack nearly an hour of going up and down stairs, following corridors and cutting through interconnecting rooms, closing all doors behind him as he went as per Ianto’s orders, before he suddenly came out of a room into a corridor he recognised.
“Hey! I know where I am!”
“Good; you should be able to find your own way from there. Coffee will be ready by the time you get up here.”
Ianto was true to his word; when Jack arrived in the main Hub, Torchwood’s coffee king was just pouring his fragrant brew into two mugs.
Jack checked his watch; seven-fifteen, there was still time before the rest of the team would arrive. “Thank you.” he gave Ianto a very through kiss before accepting his coffee and sipping slowly, savouring the taste. “So, this map of yours, how come I’ve never seen it?”
“Because most of it’s in here.” Ianto tapped a finger to the side of his head. “Eidetic memory, remember?”
“I’ll talk to Tosh about helping me construct a 3D model in the computer. Whoever built the Hub wasn’t working from any kind of plan, a lot of the layout looks completely random, but it’s probably just that they excavated layers of softer rock wherever they found them, dividing them into passages and rooms, and connecting the levels with staircases wherever the layers of harder rock were thinnest and easiest to cut though. Most of it will never be needed.”
“Sometimes people do something just to prove it can be done.”
Ianto inclined his head in agreement. “So, tell me about this alien of yours; I’ll go looking for it once I’ve fed the inmates.”
“It won’t be easy to find in that warren of tunnels.”
“I have my ways,” Ianto smirked. “And a thermal imaging scanner. If it puts out any kind of body heat I’ll find it eventually, provided it can’t open doors.”
Understanding dawned and Jack laughed. “That’s why you had me shut them all behind me.”
“It drastically reduces the search area.”
“Maybe I’ll come with you; I should probably learn my way around a bit better.”
“Good idea. I’ll even give you a crash course on the meaning of the symbols I used.”
“You painted those on the walls?”
This time Jack did see the eye roll. “They didn’t appear by magic.”
Jack grinned. This looked like it was going to be quite an adventure. Maybe they could take a packed lunch with them… And a flask of coffee of course.