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Title: Too Late
Author: [personal profile] badly_knitted
Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Team, Alien.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Nada.
Summary: The team encounters a venomous beastie and Jack has a really bad afternoon.
Word Count: 1160
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Team, "Don't make any sudden moves. If you startle it...",’ at [community profile] fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.





Jack had gone out in the field with the rest of the team, trying to track down the latest creature to fall through the Rift, but so far it was proving elusive. Ianto, back at the Hub, had been assigned the task of identifying the alien from the grainy CCTV footage showing its arrival, and learning as much as possible about it in the hope that knowing what they were looking for would make it easier to find. Being the one who knew the archives best, he would have been the natural choice for the job even if he hadn’t been out of action while his slightly Weevil-chewed leg healed. He was keeping in touch with Jack over the comm. system, relaying whatever information he managed to unearth.


“Find anything yet?” Jack asked impatiently. The team had spread out from the alien’s point of arrival, an alley in Butetown, but were so far not having noticeable luck locating the fugitive.


“I think so. I cleaned up the CCTV as much as I could and ran the picture through our alien database, which was pointless, but I checked London’s as well, just in case, and… well, their photos were of a dead one, but I’m reasonably sure you’re looking for something called a Nargolix. They’re about the size of a large fox, quadrupeds with a rough, spiny coat, a bit like a hedgehog, and a flat, paddle-like tail. They’re semi-aquatic, so it’s likely to head towards the nearest body of fresh water. According to London’s notes, which are so comprehensive there are about forty pages, they’re quite timid, although whether that’s a characteristic of the species or just the natural response of a wild creature to getting ripped from its home and dumped in a strange place is anybody’s guess. I’ll read through the rest of this and let you know if I find out anything else useful.”


“Okay, thanks, Ianto.” Jack clicked his bluetooth off, leaving Ianto to continue his research


Ten minutes later, Jack called in again. “Ianto? We’ve found it, got it corned on a patch of wasteland a stone’s throw from the Taff; it’s trying to hide under an old mattress. Shouldn’t be hard to nab it now.”


Still skimming through Torchwood One’s notes, Ianto spotted something and quickly scrolled back. “Um, Jack?”


“Yeah?”


“Don't make any sudden moves. If you startle it...” That was as far as Ianto got with his warning. Faintly over the bluetooth connection he heard an odd sound he couldn’t quite identify, followed by a loud yell from Jack, a heavy thud, and then nothing but faint, pained whimpering. Ianto winced; he could guess what had just happened. “They spit a very potent venom,” he finished with a sigh. “Jack? Are you still there?”


“Yes,” came the weak reply.


“Sorry, I only just saw that in the notes or I would’ve warned you sooner.”


“S’okay. Am I gonna die?”


“Depends on where in hit you.”


“My eyes.”


“Ah, that’s not good, it’ll be absorbed a lot more efficiently that way so yeah, probably. Sorry. You’d have been better off if it had hit somewhere else. The venom doesn’t absorb well through the skin, effects are minimal, mostly some weakness and dizziness, shortness of breath, that kind of thing, unless an open wound allows it to get into the bloodstream.”


“I hate bein’ poisoned.” Jack’s speech was slurred. “Worst way t’ go.”


“I’m sorry. Wish I could be there for you.” Ianto hated feeling so helpless.


“Safer where y’are.”


In a way, that comment made Ianto feel worse than he already did. Even while Jack was dying, he was thinking about Ianto’s safety.


Owen cut in on his headset, breaking Ianto out of his gloomy thoughts. “Is there an antidote?”


“Ah…” Ianto scrolled down the page. “Not a specific one, but London noted Spitting Cobra antivenin was reasonably effective; saved the lives of three agents who were hit in the eyes, but they were left blind or partially-sighted.”


“Huh. Don’t exactly carry that around with me anyway,” Owen muttered. “Not many Spitting Cobras in Cardiff. I’ll work on something more effective when we get the bloody thing back to the Hub. Any suggestions how we do that without bein’ poisoned?”


“Keep out of range and dart it would be my advice. Failing that, break out the protective goggles, cover your mouths and noses, and try not to get spat on.”


“Great, very helpful,” Owen grumbled.


“I try. How’s Jack?”


“Looks like he’s fading fast. I don’t want to get too close in case that thing spits again.”


“Sensible. At least Jack will come back. I hope.”


“Sure he will. Always does. Okay, we’ll try darting it, but the spines might make that a bit tricky.”


“You’d need to hit it in the leg or the underside, I think.”


“Wonderful. Nothing’s ever simple in this job.” Owen clicked his headset off and Ianto was alone, or at least he was until he heard Jack gasp back to life five minutes later.


“Jack?”


“Hey.”


“You okay?”


“More or less.”


“How are things there?”


“Looks like a stalemate. Listen, I’m going to take another shot at this, after I put my sunglasses on…” There was a faint rustling sound, and Ianto could imagine Jack rolling onto his side away from the alien’s hiding place before digging out the only form of eye protection he had to hand. “Wish me luck!”


“Good luck. And Jack? Be careful.”


“Always am.”


Ianto rolled his eyes; that statement was so untrue he didn’t know where to start, so he didn’t say anything.


“At least I know what to watch out for now.”


There was that, Ianto supposed, although it didn’t exactly fill him with an overwhelming sense of optimism. He sat tense and silent, waiting for what felt like forever but was really only five or six minutes.


“Gotcha!” Jack’s triumphant yell made Ianto smile. Success! Then there was a spitting noise, and Jack muttered, “Bugger.” Another spitting noise, but this time it sounded like Jack. “Yuk! Right in my mouth! That’s disgusting, tastes like… Yuk!” More spitting. “Think I got rid of most of it. Owen, give me a hand while I’ve got its head covered.”


Scuffling sounds filled Ianto’s ears, voices yelling indistinctly in the background, then everything went silent.


“Jack?”


No reply. That wasn’t good. He tried Owen instead. “Owen? What’s happening?”


“Got the damned Narcoleps or whatever it’s called; it’s safely shut in a containment unit. The girls are just loadin’ it in the SUV.”


“What about Jack?”


“Dead. Again. Don’t think he got such a big dose this time though. We’ll get him loaded and head back. Put the coffee on.”


Poor Jack. With yet another sigh, Ianto got up, picked up his walking stick, and limped to the kitchen. He planned on making a mug of his very best blend for Jack; after getting poisoned to death twice in ten minutes, he deserved it.



The End











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