Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, Gwen.
Summary: After experimenting with something Jack insisted was perfectly safe, Ianto has developed an unusual affliction.
Word Count: 1051
Written For: m_findlow’s prompt ‘Any, any, suddenly gone,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
One second Ianto was right there, as large as life, and the next second he was gone with a sharp popping sound as air rushed into the empty space his body once occupied. It was disconcerting, and to the rest of the team, alarming, but Jack wasn’t overly worried. It wasn’t the first time Ianto had popped out of existence.
“What happened?” Tosh asked, looking a bit panicked. “He put my coffee down on my desk, sneezed, and just… vanished!”
Jack smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, my fault. I was hoping it would’ve worn off by now.”
“Hoping what would’ve worn off?” Owen looked at Jack through narrowed eyes, suspicion evident.
“It’s nothing serious, just a minor allergic reaction to the tingling lube we were trying out last night.”
Owen flinched, the expression in his face showing just how much he hadn’t needed to hear that. “It was alien, wasn’t it?” he ground out. “Don’t you ever learn?”
“I’ve used it before,” Jack protested, “and it never affected me like this! Anyway, don’t worry; I’ll go get Ianto and bring him back, it won’t take long. At least he’s wearing clothes this time.” Jack frowned. “And carrying a tray of hot coffees. I hope they didn’t spill; he hates getting coffee stains on his clothes.”
“Wait, what do you mean you’ll go and get him?” Gwen asked. “Didn’t he just turn invisible or something?”
“Unfortunately, no,” Jack admitted. “Every time he sneezes he teleports to Barry Island.”
“Why Barry Island?” Owen asked hesitantly, as if he was almost afraid to hear the answer.
“How should I know?” Jack dashed up to his office, grabbed his coat and the keys to the SUV, and dashed back down again. “All I know is that it’s happened twice before, and that’s where he went both times. Naked. He wasn’t too happy about that.”
“Naked?” Gwen’s eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head.
Jack shrugged. “The first time, we were in bed, and the second time, he was taking a shower. Now, if you’ll excuse me, any more questions will have to wait until after I retrieve Ianto.” With that, Jack swept through the door to the underground garage and left.
“Naked?” Gwen said again, apparently still stuck on that concept. Then, “Barry Island? God, I hope he didn’t just pop up in the middle of the promenade. That would be really embarrassing, poor lamb!”
Jack found Ianto in exactly the same place as previously, sitting alone among the rocks at Nell’s Point. At least this time he wasn’t huddled there shivering and trying to keep out of sight. Instead, he was perched on a sun-warmed rock, drinking coffee.
“It’s quite pleasant here in daylight,” he mused as Jack approached. “Would you care for a coffee? It’s a bit cold now, but that doesn’t affect the flavour. I saved you your mug.”
“Don’t mind if I do.” Sitting down beside Ianto, Jack picked up his mug and drank. “Sorry about this,” he said after a moment.
“It’s not entirely your fault, Jack. You had no way of knowing what that stuff would do to me, and honestly, as far as we know the lube might only be responsible for the sneezing. The teleportation might be down to something else entirely. With all the mysterious objects I’ve been handling in the archives recently, who’s to say one of those isn’t responsible?”
“You’re taking all of this a lot better than I expected.”
“I’m resigned to my fate, and Barry Island isn’t so bad, at least not when I’m clothed. As a precaution though, I think I’ll keep my clothes on for the time being, or at least in a bag tethered to my ankle, just in case. I don’t fancy doing the whole naked thing again. That was disturbing, and being wet from the shower was even worse.”
“Hopefully whatever’s causing the problem will wear off soon.” Jack looked at Ianto thoughtfully. “What happens if you sneeze while you’re here? Do you teleport back to the Hub?”
“Unfortunately not,” Ianto sighed. “I already tried that, several times, but every time I just stayed right here. Seems it only works one way.”
“Damn.” Jack gave the situation some more thought. “Maybe if I left a car out here for you, then you could drive yourself back to the Hub instead of having to wait to be rescued.”
“But then someone would have to drive the car out here again and leave it for the next time,” Ianto pointed out. “Besides, it’s best if I don’t drive; I don’t like to think what might happen if I sneezed and vanished, leaving a driverless car in the middle of the road.”
Jack winced. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Probably best if I just make sure to keep my travel card with me; then I can catch the bus.” He checked his watch. “Couldn’t have done that this time though, it’s too early, it only runs between nine in the morning and eleven at night. Somehow I don’t think boarding it naked last night would have been acceptable even if it had still been running.”
“Good point; people in this time are such prudes about nudity.” Jack drained the rest of the cold coffee from his mug. “Well, shall we head back to Cardiff? The rest of the team saw you vanish; I told them you’d be fine, but they probably won’t relax until you’re safely back at the Hub.”
“I’d like to get back there too; I have a lot of work to do.” Ianto stood up, brushed sand off his trousers, and picked up his tea tray. “Lead the way.”
Together they trudged back through the rocks to where Jack had left the SUV. Ianto climbed into the passenger seat and belted himself in, setting the tray of empty mugs on his lap. He’d have to make more coffee for the others when he got back; Tosh was the only one who’d got a drink earlier. “Well, let’s hope this wears off soon and stops causing unwanted interruptions.” He stared out the window as Jack steered the SUV towards home, enjoying the sight of spring buds busting everywhere. It really was a lovely day. “I suppose I should just be thankful I don’t have hayfever.”