Title: The Early Bird...
Disclaimer: They're not mine. I'm just playing with them.
Rating: R for language and vague sexual references
Characters: Jack/Ianto, Gwen, Owen, Tosh
Summary: Standard TW stuff, the team is hunting aliens. Jack and Ianto kiss a bit and generally fool around.
A/N: I'm going to take a shot at writing an interconnected series of short stories in my version of the cannon TW universe. It picks up mid-series 2. Ianto and Jack are a bit more of a couple and there's a little less of the longing looks between Gwen and Jack.
“Which way did it go?!” Captain Jack Harkness shouted as he rounded the corner of the abandoned warehouse only to find the street empty and two more large industrial buildings separated by a narrow alley. Toshiko Sato was next quickly followed by Gwen Cooper.
Pausing to catch her breath, Tosh checked her hand-held scanner. “This isn't good. The worms to don't leave enough residual rift energy to register a clear trail. Either it's been all over the place here or there are more than one.”
“That's just fucking great!” Owen Harper gasped, pulling up behind Tosh.
“Where to now?” Gwen asked, gun drawn.
“Jack,” Ianto Jones' quiet voice interrupted bringing up the rear, “none of the records indicate how long it takes for them to spawn. It could already be too late. We need to destroy them all.”
Taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly, Jack said, “Okay, Ianto and I will take the alley. You three fan out and search the buildings to either side. Stay in contact through your communicators and only shoot if necessary. Stunning should kill the Bijat worms without harming the host. Got it?”
Gwen, Tosh, and Owen murmured their assent, fanning out towards the buildings on either side of the alley. Jack and Ianto stealthily entered the alley, the former with his Webley drawn and latter with his stun gun ready.
* * * *
The team had spent the last 24 hours searching for the host or hosts of a Bijat worm infestation. A rift alert had initially drawn their attention to this ramshackle and mostly abandoned industrial area on the Bay where they'd found the bodies of two homeless men, mangled and half eaten. Transporting them back to the Hub, Owen had performed a quick and dirty autopsy on the first victim.
Discovering that the bite marks were consistent with a human being and that the pineal gland was missing from the man was enough to set the rest of the team to work. With Gwen's help Owen did a more thorough autopsy on the second body while Tosh did a computer search and Ianto disappeared into the basement to check the archives.
Pacing back and forth across the main floor of the Hub, Jack paused as Owen followed by Gwen came out of the medical bay. “Well, what have you got?”
“A bloody headache is what I've got.” Owen muttered before getting to the point. “Both men were killed by blows to the head. Their skulls were cracked open and the pineal gland was removed. The majority of the bite marks were on the back, along the spine.”
Gwen grimaced. “It appears that whatever it was had been trying to drink the blood...”
Owen added, “I've got saliva samples from both bodies. I'm running DNA analysis but it'll take a few hours to get detailed results. Initial findings indicate that it's human though.”
“So this may just be some crazy and not be one of ours?” the Captain asked, resuming his pacing.
Tosh, sitting at her workstation, cut in without looking up from her screen, “I think it one of ours. Jack, do you know anything about Bijat worms?”
Pausing again, Jack thought for a moment before answering. “Hmmm, sounds familiar but I can't quite place it...”
“That's because the last infestation was in '63 while you were in the States.” Ianto smoothly interjected, as he stepped through the door leading from the basement archives.
“How do you know where I was in '63?” Jack asked with a faint look of amusement.
Ignoring him, Ianto continued, “The worms are parasitic. They infest a human host, driving it to feed on the the pineal gland, blood, and spinal fluids of other humans. There was an infestation in a small village just outside of the city in '63. Torchwood put it down but most of the villagers died. There were 26 fatalities and only 3 survivors and they apparently lost their hearing. There were also references to an infestation in the 40s but those records are sketchy at best.”
Looking from Ianto to Tosh, Jack asked, “Anything else?”
Corners of her mouth drawn down in a frown, Tosh read from the screen. “Bijat worms actually feed on pinoline, a hormone produced in the pineal gland and and found in both blood and spinal fluid. Once they've fed on enough pinoline they establish a nest, usually in a dark place and lay eggs in a host. Once the eggs hatch uninfected people are brought to the nest to become hosts for the next generation of worms and the cycle starts over. The worms access the brain through the ear canal boring directly into the brain, damaging the hosts hearing in the process. There's a note here that says the worms are relatively fragile and can be killed with a mild electric shock to the host.”
Glancing from the quiet computer technician to the tall, slim archivist, Owen commented, “You came up with that in what? 10, 15 minutes? You two are fucking scary.”
Tosh colored faintly and Ianto raised a single eyebrow.
Gwen, who had grown paler and more grim as she listened to first Ianto and then Tosh, asked “What are we going to do, Jack?”
Still faintly amused in spite of the grim information he had just received, Jack said “First, Ianto is going to tell me how he knows where I was in '63, then while he gets coffee the rest of us are going to get our gear together. We've got to find these worms before they can breed.” He looked pointedly at his lover.
As he turned to walk away, Ianto wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, “I've told you before, sir. I know everything.”
Jack snorted “Get your kit together, kids. If an electric charge will kill them, make sure you have your stun guns. This could be a long one.” Pausing momentarily, he watched his lover stride purposefully towards the small kitchenette, admiring the trim, elegant form before turning and walking purposefully to his office.
Jack, an old hand at field ops, quickly packed his own kit and then did the same for Ianto. Slipping into his ever present great coat he met Gwen, Owen, and Tosh at their workstations on the main floor of the Hub. Ianto, a step behind him, joined them carrying two large insulated beverage containers and nylon bag.
“Coffee and a sandwiches” he said, answering his teammate's unspoken question.
“Excellent. I packed your kit. I think I got everything but check it just in case.” Jack sat the small ruck sack on Ianto's desk.
“Thank you,” Ianto said quietly, checking his gear and finding everything in order.
He raised his eyebrows suggestively, puckering his lips in an air kiss before turning his attention to the rest of the team. “Everyone else ready? Stun guns fully charged?”
Gwen, Owen and Tosh nodded their assent. “Let's go,” Jack said, taking the nylon bag with the food as Ianto fell into step with him, the coffee and his own gear in hand and strode towards the underground garage leaving the others to trail in their wake.
“Has he ever bloody packed your kit for you?” Owen muttered to the two women as they followed their leader and the archivist.
“I think it's sweet,” Tosh murmured.
Shaking her head at the actions of Torchwood 3's leader and his lover, Gwen hurried to keep pace with the other two, “Just shut up, Owen.”
In the garage, Jack popped the rear door on the SUV and Ianto stowed their gear in the back. Taking the rest of the teams gear, he arranged it neatly before closing the door.
“Ianto's up front with me.” Jack told the others as he slid in behind the wheel.
“Oi, why does tea boy get the front seat all the time?” Owen asked.
“Because that's where I want him. If you'd prefer I can put Gwen and Tosh up here and we'll get in the back with you?” Jack leered a little. “No? You sure? It'll take about 20 minutes to get there. That's plenty of time.”
Owen's mouth opened and closed without any words coming out and Ianto's lip curled in revulsion. Gwen snickered at the looks of horror on both Owen and Ianto's face. “You look like a couple of fish out of water.”
At the same time Tosh said without thinking, “I'd like to see that!” Realizing she'd spoken out loud she blushed furiously, clapping her hand over her mouth.
Jack gave Tosh the big smile. “That's enough, kids. We can play later if you want. Right now we've got work to do.” Tires squealing, they headed towards the abandoned industrial complex for the second time that day.
* * * *
Looking long and hard at the displaced grate, Jack said, “Looks like we're going to have to go into the sewers.”
“Fuck,” Ianto mouthed under his breath.
“I'm not all that happy about it either” Jack replied with a quick grin, pulling the other man to him and giving the other man a quick peck on the lips before turning his attention back to the grate.
Flicking his tongue across his lips, savoring the lingering taste of his lover and steeling himself against the unpleasantness to come, Ianto said “Right then. Let's go.”
Jack, taking he lead, dropped nimbly through the hole in the pavement. With a last look around, Ianto descended the rusting iron rungs at a more careful pace. Reaching the bottom he found the older man waiting, gun in hand.
Obviously impatient, Jack gestured with his torch, illuminating the tunnel. “Let's go left first. The quicker we find these things, the quicker we can get the hell out of here.”
“Agreed,” the young Welshman replied curling his lips in distaste, following a step behind his Captain wading through the ankle deep muck.
Ten minutes later they hadn't found anything and their nerves were starting to fray. Approaching a t-junction Jack shook his head in disgust. “Let's split up. Keep your com open. If we don't find anything, we meet back here in 5 minutes and go back the other way. And watch your back.” The older man called over his shoulder as he moved off to the right. “I've got plans for it later.”
Shaking his head, Ianto moved off in the opposite direction.
Contacting the rest of the team, Jack asked “Have you all found anything up top? So far we're striking out but this is the perfect place for a nest.”
Gwen was the first to answer. “Jack, there are plenty of nooks and crannys where there could be a nest in here as well but nothing so far. I found where the tramps were living but there was nothing interesting there.”
“Stay alert and contact me immediately if you find anything. Tosh, Owen?”
“We're together. We haven't finished our building yet. She needs a babysitter.” Owen answered.
“I do not!” Tosh protested. “I'm trying to recalibrate the scanner to get a better fix on the trail.”
“You've already tripped and fallen flat on your arse once,” Owen replied snarkily.
Jack shook his head. Sometimes he couldn't believe his team were some of the best in their chosen fields. “Behave and watch where you're going.”
The main tunnel veered to the right and a smaller tunnel angled off to the left. Jack sidled up to the edge of the side tunnel. Taking a quick peek, shining his light into the inky darkness he was interrupted by Ianto's frantic voice over the com unit.
“Shit! Jack help! There 3, 4, of the them. Shit! Shit! Shit!” Ianto exclaimed.
“Ianto! Ianto! Hold on I'm coming! Everyone into the sewers now!” Jack spun, leading with his Webley and sprinted back down the tunnel towards Ianto, running directly into two dirty, ragged figures. He fired two shots into the closest figure, the first taking it in the shoulder and rocking it back and the second exploding through its head, dropping it to the ground.
He turned his attention to the second figure but he had no time to shoot. It was on him in an instant, arms flailing wildly. It's strength was almost inhuman, the first blow hammering the Webley from Jack's hand and sending it flying down the tunnel. He back peddled, trying to get some space and fumbling for his stun gun but he had no room, no time. The ragged creature that used to be a man was on him in a flash. He tried to club him with the only thing he had, his torch, but he was neither quick enough or strong enough. It batted the torch out of his hands and the next blow struck him in the jaw, snapping his head to the side and hurling him down the tunnel.
Landing on his back in the muck Jack's vision dimmed and he saw stars. Shaking his head, trying to clear it he rolled and got to his hands and knees. Everything was disjointed. His torch lay off to the side and in it's flickering light he saw his Webley a few feet away. He scrambled for it, fingers inches away when another blow struck him between the shoulder blades knocking him into the mire. The creature landed on him, pinning him to the ground.
His vision clouded and he knew this was it. Time seemed to slow. Dying here meant Ianto would die too. He knew he would come back but it would be too late for his love. The others were too far away and he lay here face down in the muck being beaten to death while Ianto faced who knows what.
No! He would not die here! He struggled, frenzied, trying to throw the thing off of him. The distinctive thud of flesh on flesh and the sharp crack of breaking bone cut through the fog in his brain and suddenly the creature was gone. Another thud and crack echoed through the tunnels and the thing fell next to him, dead eyes staring at him.
“Get up. Help him.”
Trying to clear his and and stumble to his feet, Jack looked in the direction of the command only to see the silhouette of a man backing into the inky darkness of the side tunnel. Scooping up his Webley and torch he nearly lost his balance and pitched against the wall. Catching himself, he ran in the direction of his lover, picking up speed as his head cleared.
As he raced past the junction where they had split up, four shots rang out in quick succession ahead of him. That's good, he told himself. Ianto was still alive, still fighting. Careening around a corner he passed a small side tunnel, nearly tripped over a ragged form lying face down in the muck. That's one, he thought jumping the body and barreling forward. Dodging a second prone form he rounded a corner and found the third body, bloody and still.
He spotted Ianto ahead, on his back, kicking at the fourth creature and trying to slide out of its reach. The ragged man was on his belly, leaving a trail of blood, crawling and clawing at the young Welshman. Ianto was kicking at him as he scrambled away. Jack kicked the thing in the head, snapping it to the side. Turning to face him, it hissed as he took careful aim and put a bullet in its forehead.
“Are you okay?” he asked kneeling by his lover.
Ianto nodded and slid back until his was resting against the tunnel wall. Breathing heavily, he drew his knees up to his chest and looked at the bloody corpses littering the tunnel.
Setting down next to the younger man and putting an arm around him, Jack said, “If you have to shoot, shoot them in the head.”
“I'll try to remember that next time,” he answered with a wry grin.
Turning his head and kissing him lightly on the temple, “There'd better not be a next time, my love. You just about scared me to death.”
The com unit beeped. “Jack! Ianto! What's happening? Are you okay?” Gwen asked.
“Sorry guys. We're okay. We haven't found the nest but it's got to be here somewhere.” Jack answered.
“Watch yourselves. They waited until I'd passed a side tunnel and cut me off.” Ianto added. Silencing his com he asked, “What did you just call me?”
“My love. You are so why shouldn't I say it?”
Warmed to the very center of his being, he nestled into Jack's embrace saying, “You should say it more often.”
Still holding Ianto but a little hurt in spite of himself, he said, “Is that all I get?”
“Oh, you know I love you. You known it for a long time.”
Jack smiled a crooked smile. “Yeah, I know. I just wanted to hear it.” Reluctantly releasing the young Welshman he added, “We need to talk about this in more detail later. Right now, we'd better get back to work.”
“If we must,” Ianto sighed, getting to his feet.
Gwen, Owen and Tosh arrived minutes later, finding Jack and Ianto battered and bloody but on their feet. They'd dragged the two unconscious men to the side of the tunnel near the corpses of the two men they had shot. Gwen stayed with Owen as he checked for any sign of the parasites, both in the living men and the corpses.
Meanwhile Jack, Ianto, and Tosh made their way down the small side tunnel where Ianto's attackers had lain in wait. Fanning out as much as possible they carefully proceeded through the darkness until the tunnel made a sharp turn.
Gun drawn, Jack did a quick peek around the corner. “Ugh,” he grimaced. Motioning the others, he stepped around the corner. “Looks like we found the nest.”
Peering past Jack, Tosh's elegant lips curled in distaste and Ianto's mouth tightened. “How do you want to do it?” he asked.
The sight they they faced was repugnant. The decaying remains of a woman lay in the middle of the tunnel. At first it appeared as if her skin was literally crawling but on closer inspection she was covered in a writhing mass of tiny, pale worms.
“Fire,” the older man responded, rummaging through his pack with one hand, never taking his eyes off the body in front of them.
Overcoming her obvious revulsion, Tosh asked, “Do we need a live specimen? I could get Owen...”
“No, we destroy them all,” Jack said at the same time Owen replied over the com unit, “Piss off, Tosh. I heard that.”
Tosh laughed a silvery laugh.
“Here we go,” Jack said pulling a can of lighter fluid out of his pack. “Matches, Ianto?” he asked and squirted the fluid onto the body.
Pulling a box of matches out of his pocket the Welshman said, “Stand back,” as he lit a match and flicked it at the body, raising a hand to shield his face from the heat.
They watched it burn for a moment, listening to the occasional popping sound as the worms were consumed by the flames. The three of them backed off as the stench of burning flesh permeated the tunnel.
Turning his attention Ianto and Tosh, Jack said, “Let's go help the others. We'll make sure they're all dead before we leave.” Activating his com unit he said “Gwen, Owen, we're on our way back to help with the clean up and then we'll check back here and make sure the nest is completely destroyed. There are two more bodies in the other direction that need to be dealt with.”
* * * *
“What happened with those two things back in the tunnel? It looked like you beat one to death.” Ianto asked, unbuttoning his shirt.
Jack hesitated before lying, “I'm not really sure. I shot the first one but the second one tagged me. Everything went a little fuzzy at that point. All I could think of was getting to you. The next thing I knew, I'm running down the tunnel towards you.”
They were in Jack's quarters in the Hub. The bodies had been disposed of and the two survivors had been transported to hospital after Owen had checked to make sure the worms were indeed destroyed. Tomorrow he'd check up on them and see if they required any special care. With a little luck they could recover in the public facility and not require a stay in a Torchwood facility. The rest of the team had left for the night, going home or to the pub, exhausted from events of the last 24 hours.
Folding his filthy clothing, Ianto headed towards the bathroom and small shower. “Lucky for me. Wash my back?” he asked smiling, knowing what the answer would be.
“Of course, my love.” Jack answered, kicking his trousers off and tugging at his shirt.
“See. That's not hard.”
“Maybe not but I've got something else that it.” Jack leered, following him towards the bathroom.
Shaking his head, he turned and resting his arms on Jack's shoulders, kissed him gently at first but becoming more demanding with each passing second. He nibbled the older man's lower lip as they broke apart, leaving him breathless and gasping.
“Wow,” Jack said, a little dazed.
“I love you, Jack Harkness but that's all you're getting until I get clean.”
“Spoilsport,” he pouted. Under Ianto's unwavering gaze he sighed, “Okay, get the water started. I'll be right in.”
He finished undressing, looking forward to his time with his lover and trying to put the memory of the dark man and his command, “Get up. Help him.” out of his mind. And attempting not to dwell on the fact that he'd seen the shadowy figure before.
Tuesday Evening Interlude