Characters: Ianto, Jack, Team.
Summary: Ianto gets called out early in the morning, and that’s just the beginning of a very long day.
Word Count: 1540
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Team, Little blue things,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Somewhere around five in the morning, Ianto’s phone rang and he awoke with a groan. Why now? He would’ve been getting up in an hour anyway, couldn’t whatever this was wait until then? He buried his head under the pillow, longing to escape back into sleep, but his phone kept right on ringing, and with a sigh and a few muttered curses, he finally gave in and answered it.
“What kept you?” Jack demanded.
“I was asleep! Can’t this wait until morning?”
“It’s already morning, isn’t it?” Jack sounded confused.
“Maybe for you. What’s so important you have to do me out of an hour’s sleep?”
“I need your help.”
“And you couldn’t call one of the others?”
“Already did; it’s all hands on deck.” There was silence for a moment, then Jack added, “I wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t really urgent, and I did leave you until last.”
Ianto supposed he should be grateful for that; he must’ve had nearly five minutes’ more sleep than whomever Jack called first. “Right. Thanks. So, what’re we dealing with? Rampaging Weevils? Drugged up Blowfish? Ravenous Hoix?”
“Uh, no, they’re… well…” Jack’s final words were in a barely audible mutter.
“Say that again? I didn’t quite catch it.”
“I said, they’re sort of little springy things, but there’s a lot of them.”
“Little springy things?” Ianto asked incredulously, putting his phone into hands-free mode so he could dress while getting the details. “That’s not much of a description.”
“They’re blue,” Jack added helpfully, like that might make all the difference.
“Lovely,” Ianto snarked. “Springy little blue things, great description. You said there’s a lot? How many are we talking about? A couple of dozen?”
“More like several hundred,” Jack replied grimly, “and they bite. Little mouths, but sharp teeth, so wear gloves. Oh, and I’d recommend using duct tape round your ankles, it’s not at all pleasant if they get up your trouser legs. Can you bring some with you? I only had part of a roll in the SUV and it’s not enough for everyone.”
Ianto closed his eyes and muttered something uncomplimentary. This was just getting better and better. “Give me your location and I’ll be right there,” he said with a put-upon sigh. “Is there anything else you want me to bring?”
“I don’t think so. Tosh is fetching butterfly nets from the Hub, and the protective goggles. We’re up near the Castle.”
“On my way.”
Twenty minutes later, Ianto joined the rest of the team, minus Tosh, who hadn’t returned from her trip to the Hub yet, and got his first look at what they were dealing with. As unhelpful as Jack’s description of their ‘visitors’ had been, it was undeniably accurate; swarms of small creatures, maybe two inches long by half that wide, were scattered across the grass in every direction, as far as Ianto’s eyes could see in the greyish early morning light. They had long, grasshopper-like hind legs that allowed them to spring straight up nearly two feet into the air, and shorter forelegs that seemed to be mainly used for landing and balance when they were they were making short leaps across the ground. Their blunt front ends were blessed with short, feathery feelers, a row of little black dots that Ianto assumed were probably eyes or some other kind of visual sensor, and a small mouth rimmed with tiny, sharply pointed teeth. They were also a quite vivid shade of blue.
“Oh boy,” he sighed. Rounding them up was definitely not going to be fun. He wasn’t even sure the butterfly nets would work; if the teeth were as sharp as they looked, they’d probably cut right through the mesh with a single bite.
Resigned to the long day ahead, Ianto passed out reels of duct tape and they all helped each other seal any gaps in their clothing where the little creatures might find convenient access. By the time Tosh arrived with five sets of protective goggles, and the nets, which she’d sensibly reinforced with thin metal mesh, the others were all taped up and wearing leather gloves to protect their hands. With Gwen’s assistance, Tosh was soon similarly taped, and ‘Operation Swarm’ could get underway.
Ianto put a quick call through to Detective Swanson, requesting that police be despatched to prevent tourists and the public from entering the area of the park around Cardiff Castle, due to the presence of a dangerous swarm. At present, the creatures were still just milling about, apparently disoriented by their sudden and unexpected relocation to an unfamiliar place; he just hoped the nasty little buggers could somehow be prevented from spreading out further than they already were.
The task of catching them was every bit as horrendous as Ianto had thought it would be. The little menaces weren’t interested in cooperating, springing out of the way of the nets at the last moment, and approximately two out of every three that were successfully netted managed to get out again before they could be transferred to one of the small cages Tosh had also collected on her trip to the Hub.
By ten the whole team were exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, and they’d caught less than a quarter of the critters Ianto now thought of as Springies. He shook his head; their current approach wasn’t working, they needed a new strategy, so after a quick word with Jack, he headed back to the Hub to see what other options were available.
It took him almost an hour of searching the archive database, discarding one possible idea after another, but finally he came up with something that might work, if Tosh could modify the devices a bit. Grabbing the tech, along with several flasks of coffee and an assortment of sandwiches from the deli, where his duct-taped clothing got him some funny looks, Ianto headed back to the castle.
The food and coffee were greeted by grabbing hands and grateful smiles, and while everyone ate, Ianto outlined the new plan; first, set up an enclosure using a dozen small force-field generators he’d found, leaving a narrow gap through which to drive the creatures. They wouldn’t be able to jump out because they couldn’t jump high enough. Next, herd them into it using the three air blowers he’d collected from the archives. They were parts of an air-circulation system that had arrived through the Rift, packed neatly into a crate, clearly a delivery that had been accidentally diverted. Finally, when all the Springies were confined, Tosh would reverse the blowers so they sucked instead, and they’d siphon the Springies into the cages.
It was a fairly straightforward plan, but it still took them until late afternoon to complete the roundup, and even then there were a few strays that needed to be collected. Ianto volunteered to stay behind and vacuum up the stragglers, since he had his own transport, while the others could take the bulk of the swarm back to the Hub with them in the SUV. He spent the next couple of hours painstakingly searching the area, until he was reasonably sure he’d got them all, and finally staggered into the Hub shortly after seven-thirty, hot, dishevelled, and worn out, carrying the last cage, packed with fifty or so creatures who weren’t being springy at all due to the confined space.
Jack took them off him to release into one of the isolation rooms on level five with the rest of the swarm, where they’d be confined but have room to move around. Ianto went straight to the showers, peeling away first layers of duct tape, and then his clothes, before stepping gratefully into a cool shower to wash away the day’s grime.
Back in the main Hub, feeling a bit more human in clean clothes, he collapsed onto the sofa beside Jack and helped himself to pizza. Like everybody else, he was starving, and for some time they were all too busy eating to talk.
“So, what are we going to do with them now we’ve got them?” Ianto finally asked Jack.
“Damned if I know,” Jack admitted. “That’s a problem that can wait until tomorrow though. For now, I vote we eat, then go home and try to get an early night.”
“Works for me.”
There was a chorus of approval from the rest of the team; long days were a fact of life for them, but even by Torchwood standards, this one had seemed to go on forever.
Soon they started to drift away, heading back to their respective homes. Jack and Ianto were the last to leave, after setting the Hub’s systems to night mode.
“I can hardly remember what my bed looks like,” Ianto muttered wearily.
“You’ll be tucked up in it soon,” Jack assured him.
“Mm. Just do me a favour; don’t wake me unless the world is ending, because I’m having a lie-in tomorrow; I don’t plan on getting up until… oh, at least seven.”
Laughing, Jack followed Ianto into the underground garage and the Hub fell silent. Well, except for the quiet hum of the computers, soft rustling from Myfanwy’s aerie, and in a room deep below the main Hub, the endless boing, boing, boing, of the Springies.